Monday, April 13, 2015

Be at Peace with Spring (even though homelessness sucks)

Class at Miriam's today was not the usual reading and analyzing, jockeying for witticisms, reading our work aloud.  Today we sifted through a stack of poetry books to find poems to write on index cards and share (poem in your pocket day). There was lots of chatting and conversation, and I ended up locked in conversation with someone I've loved sitting next to for a year and a half. Today I watched him spin out -- a narrative of grief and injustice and he contorted into someone I'd never seen.

Driving home I wrestled with despair, with the deeper-than-grief I'd seen on his face and felt in my chest, with my utter helplessness, with how complicated we humans are.  We can face nothing without our interpretation -- so many realities layered like films in any given moment as we all watch from our own set of eyes.

My head spun with questions, all the same questions I'd pelted God with when I went to the park week after week and day after day -- What is the point?  I have nothing to offer!  I'm just as thirsty as everyone here!  What good is it for any of us?  What difference does it make?  What can I do to help?  I can't do ANYthing to help.  These wounds are too deep.  The system is too broken.  I don't know what to do!  What did YOU do??

And as always, almost obnoxiously, happens when I shout these questions, the answer quietly sifted in through my outrage:  I went to people, and I loved them. And though that does not resolve the heinous stories that pour out of the shelters on 2nd and D, nor fix the fact that there's no ready housing for a 75 year old homeless man who can't quite care for himself and has psychological needs, nor so many other bleeding problems, it was enough to quiet me down because it was true.

As I climbed Massachusetts Avenue, I passed a billboard that said be at peace with spring. It was a Claritin ad, but it struck like a good word.  Be at peace.  Be at peace as the huge towering trees wait, still bare to the bone.  Be at peace with buds that show no sign of petal. Be at peace with the wet slick concrete, the puddles, the dripping gutters, tiny crocuses in the old grass.  Be at peace.  

There is so much landscape-wrenching change in spring. The rain pounds.  The air is still cold, shivery and uncomfortable. The mud tracks our steps. Bulbs pierce the ground. Branches are punctuated by buds.  Buds bloom wide enough that every one of their petals fall.  Leaves push in, tiny and tender, waving and exposed. 

Spring.  It is a battle to fend off winter. It is a battle to live life on the other side of barrenness.

Be at peace with spring.
Be at peace with the battle for life, with the hope of another round.

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