IF YOU MUST CRY
Some days. Some days are harder than others. Some days are a little more challenging. Some days everyone gets a little down, even Michelle Obama.
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth, whenever it is a damp drizzly November,” Ismael bemoans in Melville’s Moby Dick. Then, Ismael goes on to consider suicide, to feel near out of control with his anger but pauses and says, “then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
The statistics are revealing that more and more of us are feeling desperate, anxious, and sad if not outright fearful. We are having days like Ismael. The Pandemic challenges every assumption about safety, about the function of government, about the compassion of our neighbors, about our ability to live well in these times. We can easily grow grim.
The thing is there is not anyone out there to rescue us from the damp, drizzly November day feeling. Or is there?
For me when the world and I are out of sync. When I have grown weary of the failure of the country I love to manifest the quiet courage of earlier generations to do what must be done to overcome a crisis (or three), when all my favorite music and diversions fail I get to nonsense as soon as I can. That is, I pull out the Cooper Eden books I have collected over the years. Cooper Edens is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator.
The books that will delight a child with what seems like nonsensical solutions and magic can become the guides for repairing our wounded spirits and strengthening our frail hope.
If tomorrow morning the sky falls…Have clouds for breakfast.
If the world has come undone…fasten it securely to the horizon
These will make a child laugh as you read to them and show them the whimsical illustrations that accompany the words, but when I read them, I find they reach a place that only the spirit comprehends. They seem like just the magic I need to turn things around. To imagine a problem, an emotion, in another way or maybe to just be a little silly for a change.
If there is no happy ending …make one out of cookie dough.
If it is the last dance…dance backwards. That one always makes me laugh.
However, Edens last book was not silly at all. It resonates with what we are experiencing now. We must be drawn to what is given to us… the thankful days…breath by breath… for our unencumbered souls…made of the answer that is always given.
There is such comfort in being reminded that we have a right to these days no matter how trying, frightening, or dispiriting. To not call an end to our life but take to the sea or make a new ending out of cookie dough.
When Cooper Edens says, Not only are we home…we are home. He is something of a prophet for our times telling us how to survive. Telling us how to rescue ourselves.
We begin living when we realize we are life. For such is our promise: To impress this fragile and transient earth so passionately upon our minds that its essence shall rise, whole and free within us all.
Such simple words become poignant reminders to acknowledge the sacredness of our own individual life. Our right to be here and to be both passionate and compassionate. To acknowledge the strength within us even when we are not sure how to be strong.
“If the key doesn’t fit… throw away the house
Silly nonsense with such profound energy to repair, to salvage, to be resilient.
I have learned to respect the difficult days of my chronic illness even as I wish them away. I have come to understand that sometimes it is enough breath by breath…thankful for our unencumbered souls. That it is enough because we are living. We are life. We are home. We are the answer and the only one to rescue us is us.
To be is blessing. Just to live is holy. (Abraham Joshua Herschel). That is not just a nice phrase. It is a call to honor our life regardless of the circumstances.
And that always brings me back to the wisdom of Victor Frankl. Say yes to life, he wrote. He witnessed, lived through atrocities and suffering, and came through it all saying yes to life. He was not saying yes to a life where the only goal is happiness. He was saying yes to a life of purpose and meaning.
When my sister was in the last month of her life with metastatic cancer, she would often say something to me that I have cherished as a way to look at the moment with gratitude. There were times when something as simple as making her her a bowl of strawberries and cream or going for a little stroll, she would pat my arm and say “this is as good as it gets” then she would chuckle a little at the irony and the accuracy of her statement.
If this is as good as it gets then I will be grateful for this moment writing this blog and hoping as I send it out it has a word or two just for you.
So, I smile thinking of my sister’s lovely sense of humor and gratitude. If this is as good as it gets, I will have lived well today.
But…. If you must cry…plant your tears as seeds.
From Cooper Edens Books
If You’re Afraid of the Dark . Remember the Night Rainbow
If You’re Afraid of the Dark.. Add One More Star to the Night
Flight of the Little Winged Mothers Thru the Heart of the Universe to Help Build the Body of God