Thursday, November 16, 2017

This Anticipatory Time... Bits and Bobs, Books and Thoughts


This Anticipatory Time
...Bits and Bobs, Books and Thoughts...

For the past few years in my town, autumn has been a bit of a dud.  The leaves of the oaks and poplars stubbornly refused to change into their garments of fire and simply turned a dun-colored hue and let go of grey branches to fall in great uninspiring heaps in the gardens.  Even the maple trees, usually the undisputed stars of the show, sat out the festivities.  But this year has been different.  Perhaps sensing we need them this autumn more than ever, all over town the trees have risen to the challenge magnificently and dressed themselves in a brilliance usually reserved for fairytale illustrations.  Their beauty has transformed the most pedestrian of errand runs into a journey through Aladdin’s cave.  

It’s been colder, earlier.  Fires have burned in the grate for many nights already.  And on an evening last week, last week (!), I saw a Christmas tree twinkling merrily in a neighbor’s window.  Normally, I would add my voice to those tut-tutting about it being much too early to stick a toe in the festive season, but this year…. well, this year I totally get it.  If ever there was a year when we all need more than the usual dose of comfort and joy, this is it.  For myself, I’m still busy getting ready for Thanksgiving.  The menu is written; mincemeat is being made today.  But on Thanksgiving night The Songwriter will switch on the lights that encircle the tall evergreen tree that stands watch by our front porch and I’ll hang a fragrant wreath on the door. 

This year we once again look to the holiday season for warmth and light, even as the world seems colder and darker than ever before.  This is the season of hope and I intend to participate with enthusiasm, sharing as much of that hopeful light as I can.  So in that spirit, here are a few ideas and thoughts for this anticipatory time.  A few books to read, and maybe to wrap up as presents.  A new movies to see.  A few thoughts, a few ideas. Even some emerald green shoes.  Please share anything special of your own in the comments below. 
And love to you all!
xx

1.  Books
I’ve been doing a lot of reading by the fire recently.  Also reading under layers of quilts in a warm bed while owls hoot outside my window in the dark.  Also, reading at restaurant tables and in passenger seats of cars.  I’ve never mastered the art of reading in the bathtub, but in a more concentrated effort to get to all the books I’m dying to read just now, I might give that a try soon.  Here are just a few of the books I’ve read lately, and some I’m looking forward to.

Magpie Murders
by Anthony Horowitz

The Christmas Chronicles
by Nigel Slater

Devotions
by Mary Oliver

The Antlered Ship
by Dashka Slater
illustrated by The Fan Brothers

An Almost Perfect Christmas
by Nina Stibbe

The Way Home in the Night
by Akiko Miyakoshi
***

2.  Knitted Love
I finished knitting the sweater above just before I left for Scotland.  I’m in love with the stag design in the cables, as well as the colour and the fit… but the real reason it is now my favourite sweater is that when I cast it onto the needles Edward was curled up beside me on the sofa.  I’ve no doubt a bit of his fur made its way into this sweater and therefore I was wearing it on a sunny day last month when I buried a bit of that white fur on top of Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa.  A very special memory. 
If you’re not a knitter, but you’d like an authentic Scottish knit of your own, check out THIS SITE.
I also love THIS ONE for winter.
***
3.  Giannetti Clothing
A lot of you know the gorgeous Brooke Gannetti from her blog, Velvet and Linen.  I’m happy to say that along with her husband and son, Brooke has embarked on a new clothing line that looks utterly scrumptious.  Just take a look at that cashmere duster above.  
Find it HERE.
Oh, and be sure and take a look at this wonderful baby blanket.
***

4.  New Movies
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating:  I am lucky in my friends.  One of those friends, in addition to being thoughtful, beautiful, funny and creative, is a bit of an expert on England in the Second World War.   I have had the privilege of accompanying her recently to lectures on the topic and have found them illuminating as well as fascinating.  There is truly, as Ecclesiastes tells us, nothing new under the sun.  If we are determined not to heed its lessons, history will most certainly repeat itself till we do.  
In that vein, I am looking forward to these two new movies with relish.
Perhaps you are too?



***
5.  Holiday Shoes
When I was in London in May, I found the most perfect pair of black suede heels, the sort of heels for women like myself who refuse to slide their feet into anything painful.  The same shop now has the a charming pair of emerald green shoes, perfect for holiday dinners and parties. 
 I mean, emerald green shoes!  
Find them HERE.
***
7.  Scarves 
It’s no secret that I adore scarves, my sartorial style stops just short of Isadora Duncan for safety reasons only.  One of my favourites is a large honey-colored creation which features the a full-length portrait of Oscar Wilde.  Of course, when its draped and knotted around my throat it’s like a private secret; no one knows it’s Oscar, his visage is hidden in swirls of soft colour.
Photographer Mary McCartney (yes, sister of Stella, daughter of … well, you know) has just released a line of beautiful scarves, all reproductions of her photographs.  I adore the dancer above.  Like my Oscar, she would totally disappear into blues.  Love it so.
Find it HERE
***
8.  Holiday Tins
I do a lot of baking during the holidays and am always on the lookout for pretty new ways to package these gifts.
Being a fan of William Morris, I’m crazy about these tins.
Find them HERE.
***

9.  Edward Speaks at Midnight, A Christmas Story
I never really realized when I wrote Edward Speaks at Midnight what a treasure it would one day come to be for me.  Orders have already begun and books are being shipped out for Christmas.  It makes me so happy to know that once and forever Edward will be a part of so many holiday seasons.  
Order your copy HERE.
***

St. Conan's Kirk, Scotland
October 2017
And Finally, A Few Thoughts on Faith
As a person of faith, the past few years have been painful in the extreme.  I have watched in horror as America’s white evangelical church resolutely aligned itself with our current president despite his every word and deed being antithetical to those of the Christ they profess to follow.  With each new atrocity, I wait for that support to disappear or, at the very least, wane a bit, but am disappointed every time.  A friend recently said he has ceased calling himself “Christian” because of what that word now means to the vast majority of Americans.  I sympathize and understand. 

 In crossing so many lines of decency and truth, humanity and love, this new version of christianity has made a liar out of Christ.  Perhaps it’s past time for this question:  “When does such a stark difference in basic beliefs, values and practices actually become a different religion? For me, the answer is mighty close to ‘now.’”
  Those last two sentences are from a particularly cogent article recently written by another friend of mine.  If you’ve thought at all about this issue, as we enter this holy holiday season, you might like to give it a read.
Find it HERE.
***
See you soon, 
Pamela

Thursday, November 2, 2017

And I Behold This Secret


And I Behold This Secret

In the firelight his face is not unlike the mountain range that rises up behind his pink cottage, ancient and mysterious with eyes that shine with a wisdom that blooms from a lifelong kinship with the island on which he still walks.  He tells me tonight he’s now “four years away from eighty”, but he seems both far older and infinitely younger.  I sit, as I always do on these yearly dinners, forgetting to eat, utterly rapt and enthralled in his presence, my soul caught in the net of his Scottish brogue which is always as mesmerizing as the stories he tells. Gaelic is his first language, the language in which he thinks - and no doubt, dreams - and those musical words season his English with the sweet taste of magic.  Tonight a gale blows up from the sea below us with winter in its breath, rattling the old windows and twisting the shadows of the fir trees into Delphic dancers on the whitewashed walls.  More wine is poured but I hardly notice.  He is telling me the story of the owl.  

I have heard the tale before, a fact that neither lessens nor distracts from its power to enchant.  I have heard of the tiny owl he rescued from certain doom when he was just a boy, an owl that had fallen to the forest floor from a nest too lofty to see.  The connection was immediate and the owl, who grew to thrive under the his care, soon regarded him as kinsman.  He named him Fury, a name he would call out when he entered the woods, one that would summon the great owl to soundlessly sail down from the fir trees and alight on his shoulder.  Together they would wander the forests and hills like the friends they were, linked by the holy silken thread between man and animal, a magic any Celt understands in that inarticulate part of his soul.  “It’s my clearest memory” he tells me, the orange flames from the fire reflected in his eyes, “one night, seeing Fury light on my bedroom windowsill, his face illuminated in the lamplight, pecking a hello on the glass”.   

Perhaps it’s because I’m of Celtic descent that I feel most at home on Scottish soil.  There are voices in the winds that blow round the mountains there - voices I seem to hear and understand - mystery rides on the mists rising up from the seas, a mystery that Celts feel no need to decipher and thereby diminish.  We are content to let the mystery exist untroubled, knowing there are grander truths than those our minds can understand and feeling grateful those truths exist.  We learn at an early age the more we notice beauty, the more beauty we’re allowed to see - something that provides a modicum of heaven here on earth.  We watch, we listen, we feel the undefinable presence of God in the mist.  My journeys to Scotland refresh that Celtic part of my soul and give me what I seem to need to thrive in these troubled times.

This past week was the first time The Songwriter has been out of town since Edward’s passing.  It was not a week I was looking forward to with any measurable amount of glee.  Edward always stepped up his devotion whenever he was the only man in the house, sticking even closer to my side than he usually did, which was considerable.  His absence, I knew, would be even sharper without The Songwriter here.  

On the morning after he left, Apple and I were awakened at six am by a strange sharp banging coming from somewhere down the hallway.  I got up and crept into the kitchen, listening intently, Apple close behind.  The sound was coming from the darkened sitting room and I entered that room with no small amount of trepidation pricking my thumbs.  There at the window sat a large Brown Thrasher, his dun-colored feathers fluffed out against the cold.  As I watched he pecked at the glass with a determination that implied calm, unflinching commitment.  I shooed him away, but he only flew inside the magnolia tree and eyed me with a steady gaze.  As soon as I left the room, he returned to resume his rapping on the window.  

This continued all week long.  Every day, from the first pink edges of dawn to the orange glow of dusk, he took up his post and pecked at the window;  Apple and I began to get used to the sound.  Then, on Saturday afternoon, The Songwriter came home.  And the bird left, the rapping ceased. 

 In the days that have followed I have seen him, in a holly bush or perched on a magnolia limb.   He watches me benignly, with no apparent need to impart any message other than the sweetness of co-existence.  In Celtic tradition, birds hold special significance as messengers from other worlds.  I know this and in that inarticulate part of my soul, I seem to understand and am grateful.  And without a doubt, my friend in Scotland would understand as well.

***

“With my hair almost on end and the eyes of the soul wide open I am present, without knowing it at all, in this unspeakable Paradise, and I behold this secret,this wide open secret which is there for everyone, free, and no one pays any attention.”

Thomas Merton
from Thomas Merton and the Celts by Monica Weis

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Only Fitting


Only Fitting

It is expected, often assumed, that wisdom is always the fruit of age.  Even though we empirically know this is an inaccurate assumption, we still expect it.  So many whiplash experiences come hurtling through the trees to hit us squarely in the heart as we journey along this blue planet it is painful to imagine we glean nothing useful from them.  So when we catch our breath from the latest unexpected, unasked for, and unwanted sneak attack we often pause and we wonder…. is there anything of value here?  Have I been left with anything other than memories of a better day? Does there remain the knowledge of a divine alchemy by which I can create a balm for my soul?  One that might keep it open and unlatched despite the dreadful knowledge I now possess?  

A lot of words have been written about grief, almost as many as have been written about love.  This is only fitting, of course.  For as I wrote when Edward died, grief is indeed the price we pay for love.  Or as another person put it, to fall in love is to receive an engraved invitation to grief.  One thing I have come to realize in these few short weeks without my magical creature beside me is that those are the only two feelings we have.  Love, and Grief.  Mirror images of one another.  Great, expansive webs into which all the other emotions are captured and held.  The siren song of love is only heard by all the sweet spirits that flow from its source to fall like soft, warm rain on our hearts:  laughter, kindness, hope, joy.  While grief lures into its chasm all that is dark; we approach it with the trepidation it deserves and we cling to its sides till our fingers bleed lest all the goodness we long to preserve is sucked down and lost forever in its bitterness and fear. 

There is the old saying, oft repeated, that grief is only healed by time.  To the grief-stricken this is sometimes heard as a warning.  We don’t necessarily want our grief to heal, for healing implies forgetting and that’s the last thing we wish to contemplate.  To resign a great love to the occasional memory is anathema.  We want them with us always, in whatever form they choose to take - bitterness can seem preferable to nothingness.  No, any healing power that time imparts is the power of courage, for courage is what we need to continually wrest our souls back from the blackness of grief.  It takes courage to set grief aside and choose gratefulness instead.  It takes courage to turn one’s back on the trauma of loss and choose to love again - to choose to always love.  And make no mistake, grief is a formidable foe; it has the power to make this a difficult choice.   

If my age has imparted to me anything resembling wisdom, this one thing I do know:  Love is stronger than grief.  So everyday, in small ways and big ones, I keep on choosing love.  To do so leaves me unprotected from the welts of grief, I know this too well.  But it also keeps me from sliding down into its dark hole, abandoned and alone.  These past few weeks I have been buoyed by friends and readers who have known the sharp stab of grief themselves.  I will forever be thankful for their generosity of spirit.  But grief is a solitary journey; no one can walk it for you.  It is a deal you make when you choose to love.  Love.  And Grief.  Having sat in the halls of both, I will still choose love. 
xx
Pamela

Note: 
The Songwriter and I were scheduled to travel to Scotland last month.  When we received Edward’s shocking diagnosis, however, we cancelled our trip, never dreaming he’d be gone in eight short days.  So we are going in a few days.  I have written often about the magic bestowed upon me by the Highlands of Scotland and am looking forward to their healing powers now more than ever.  If you would like to follow along on this journey, you may do so on my Instagram page, HERE.   It is titled Pamela and Edward, and will always remain so. 

Also, so many of you have inquired about sweet Apple.  Thank you so much.  She is doing fine.  Much better than we have been.  We now realize she knew Edward was ill long before we did, something that is both extraordinary as well as humbling.  But if you’ve read Edward’s Christmas book, you will remember that Apple has many thoughts roaming around in her head, mostly ones to do with chipmunks, cheese and play.  Nothing ever troubles her in inordinate fashion and we are extremely grateful for that.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Like the Sky


“His absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” 
C.S. Lewis
from A Grief Observed

I will be forever grateful for all the kind comments and loving letters I have received about Edward.  He would have been astonished to realize he was known, much less loved, by so many wonderful people all over the world.  For myself I am humbled and grateful.  I promise to answer every letter personally.  For the moment, however, I am attempting to accept and navigate Edward’s absence.  It is much harder than I ever would have believed.  I shall return in time.
Thank you and love to you all.
Pamela

Monday, August 28, 2017

My Edward


“And when he dies, turn him into stars and form a constellation in his image. His face will make the heavens so beautiful that the world will fall in love with the night and forget about the garish sun.”

My Edward
It is with great sadness that I tell you that big, sweet, magical Edward has slipped away from us.  He was diagnosed with nasal cancer only nine days ago and our hopes for a three to six month grace period was sadly not to be.  He died as he lived, by my side.

One only has to look at the name of this blog to know what a large part of my heart was owned by Edward.  A cold wind is blowing through the hole that appeared in my heart at his passing.  He was a special creature from the first time I saw him.  He was kind, knowing, cheerful and extremely devoted.  He saw me through the death of both my parents and allowed me to hide behind his exuberant charm when I first began writing in a more public fashion.  His big sweet face adorns both of my books.   I have run with him down sandy beaches and along mountain paths.  He laid across my feet as I wrote and slept next to me in my bed at night.  I can only hope that I gave him a fraction of the happiness he gave me.  I like to think that I did.

Edward was almost fourteen years old, so his death was something we knew would happen sooner than later.  But as with all deaths, we were nowhere near prepared for the grief we now feel.  We take comfort that he spent the last year as happy as ever and his illness, through grave, was brief.  

Needless to say, I covet any prayers you may have lying around unsaid.  Grief is the price we pay for love.
This was a big love and now my bill is due.
Much love to you all, 

Pamela 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Something Lost




Something Lost

It was a day like any other.  We stood beside our desks in school, placed our little hands over our hearts and pledged our allegiance to a starry flag, believing what we'd been told: our country was exceptional, our country was the best.  But we were sent home from school early that November afternoon so we knew something wasn’t quite right.  I ran through the back door and raced down the hallway to find my mother crying in front of the television.  The lady on the screen was wearing a suit of vibrant pink but on our black and white set it appeared light grey and oddly streaked with something that looked like dirt.  My mother cried all that cold weekend and my father’s jaw was set in what I now know was an effort not to do the same.  As parents used to be able to do with their little ones, they kept the details from me.  I knew something bad had happened, but I didn’t know what.

They say our country lost its innocence that day.  Trust in our government, so strong during the great wars, began to chip away like so much old paint.  Conspiracies swirled around the death of our President.  Soon black men were being shot with fire hoses in Southern streets, their bodies thrown to the curbs like trash.  One hero was blown apart in a Los Angeles hotel dining room, another was picked off a balcony in Memphis by a bullet guided by a hatred both historic and insidious.  The dreams and hopes of many were put in the ground along with both men.  More innocence dead.  More body blows to a idealistic country.

Sheltered on my shady street, my own innocence remained safe.  When your parents love each other, and love you - when you’re white - innocence is a relatively easy thing to keep tucked away, pristine in a unpierced heart.   Hard as it may be to believe,  it has taken the events of this past year to drain the last drops of that golden elixir of innocence from my soul.  There’s a little left, but it’s not measurable.

This past year I watched my fellow citizens embrace a man so imbued with hate and mendacity he wore them with utter pride, never bothering to cloak them in neutral colors.   I watched as supposed men of faith called this man, “God’s choice”, urged Christians to elect him and, even today, stand by his every action with disgusting, inexplicable, devotion.  I have heard the vilest words come, not from the more expected dark corners of our culture, but from the highest pinnacle of our nation’s government.  I have watched as lies are praised and paraded.  I watched a president speak to our nation’s Boy Scouts in a way that was shudderingly crass, maddeningly crude.  Only this week I have seen this man’s repulsive narcissism nudge the world closer to an annihilating war.  Only yesterday I saw an evil swarm of his champions, now hoodless and emboldened in the sulphurous light of his support, bring their dark hatred to the sunshine of Virginia. 

Any innocence or idealism I may have secreted away during my youth is dripping away with alarming speed.  I thought we were better.  I thought we had learned.  I thought that those who taught me the ways of God believed the words that they spoke.  I thought there was a line that couldn’t, or wouldn’t, be crossed.  I now know better.  

This blog has always been a place for me to revel in the beauty of life.  It’s been hard to write these past few months.  Oh, don’t misunderstand me.  I know the beauty is still there.  I see it; I appreciate it.  It gives me comfort.  But to write continually about my joys and loves as I’ve done for the past nine years seems, at this moment, almost trivial.  At present we are in a battle for our souls, individually and as a country, and this battle weighs heavily on my heart and mind.  

A wise women recently said, “We don't think our way to hope. We take the actions, and then the insight follows. The insight is that hope springs from awareness of love, immersion in love, commitment to love.”  For myself, that’s all I know to do.  Each action I take, every activity in which I engage, I am endeavoring to do them with love.  Caring for The Songwriter, Edward and Apple.  Caring for my colorful little cottage.  Cooking meals.  Filling old vases with flowers.  Knitting.  Reading.  Making myself a cup of tea.  Sharing a smile and a friendly word with strangers even when I myself am worried and anxious.  Helping where I can, listening when I can.   Surrounding myself with brave people who know what’s at stake, who lift me up, make me laugh and bring a flicker of hope to my heart.  And perhaps as important, letting go of that which gives me pain.

Once lost, I’m not sure innocence can be regained, or even if it should.  But hope is different.  As Emily told us, hope is a thing with feathers.  It may fly away in a storm, but that doesn’t mean it will never again flutter down to perch in our souls.  That is what I wish for all of us in these days as we remind ourselves that what we are witnessing is not a great America.  It is not who we are.  It is not normal.  It is not Christian.  It will not last.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Getting the Joke


Getting the Joke

Looking back, I think it was the Kardashian covers that began to sour my relationship with American Vogue.  But the death knell finally rang when Grace Coddington,  the incandescently creative fashion director, left the magazine last year.  Her inspiring imagination had kept me tethered to my subscription, but when she departed I became nearly totally Anglophilic in my magazine reading.  British Vogue, British Bazaar, UK Town and County and UK Country Living tickle my senses completely and prompt me to visit my local big box book store once a month in an effort to procure them.   The recent covers of UK Bazaar have been beautifully irresistible and every time I finish UK Country Living I want to buy a pig.

A couple of weeks ago I approached the counter at the above mentioned store with my  latest British issues.  The young man who stood ready to take my money had a pleasant face and we smiled at each other in polite reserve.  Then, all of a sudden, a hiccup escaped from his mouth with a sound worthy of a tree frog in summer.  He looked horrified and I, politely, pretended not to notice.  Then, as is the way of hiccups, another one followed, even louder than the last.  I felt the corners of my mouth begin to twitch and I forced myself to meet the young man’s eye.  He was trying not to laugh as well.  Neither of us were successful.  We both started to giggle, his laughter punctuated by continual hiccups that only increased in frequency and volume the more we both laughed.  He was still laughing, and hiccuping, when I left and I laughed all the way to the car.

Let’s face it, human beings are funny.   In appearance, few of us are supermodels (and frankly, with photoshop even the supermodels aren’t as super as we are led to believe).  Most of us look funny.  Stand naked in front of a full length mirror and tell me I’m wrong.  We have quirky little fears, funny little habits.    Take for instance the lady I watched at the gym the other day, walking in quick step round and round the track eating a large size bag of potato chips as she did so.  I mean, funny, right?   As for me, I am eternally grateful for hands-free phones in cars these days for it makes the fact that I talk to myself much less noticeable.

While it is less than a scientific measure of good character, I myself have never quite trusted someone incapable of laughing at themselves.  Looking round the world today, I cannot conceive of a greater indicator of personal delusion that finding one’s every word or deed above the slightest humorous critique.  To take oneself that seriously can, in direct opposition to one’s intention, lead one by the nose straight into buffoonery,  a land where everyone gets the joke but you.  Sad. 

By way of illustration, The Songwriter and I were happily shopping last weekend in one of our favorite markets.   Our arms laden with fresh fruit and flowers we turned to leave and saw a small crowd gathered round the doors.  A storm of colossal proportions had blown up suddenly, rain was coming down in sheets and no one was eager to brave the deluge to get to their cars.    I was impatient.  I reminded The Songwriter that whenever we’re in Scotland we walk in the rain without complaint.  He reminded me that we were not in Scotland at the moment and he was disinclined to get drenched whilst carrying a full bag of groceries.  I tapped my foot.  I sighed.  Eventually, he gave in and we made a run for it, me squealing all the way.  I got in the car first and my eyes immediately fell on the door lock.  I can tell you it took every inch of compassion and good sense in my possession not to lock that door and watch The Songwriter pitch a fit in the rain.  It would have been funny, right? Oh, it would have been funny.   Even he would have agreed, though perhaps a bit later.   I am lucky to share life’s journey with someone who gets the joke.  Never trust a man who doesn’t.

****

“If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and get to know a man, don't bother analyzing his ways of being silent, of talking, of weeping, of seeing how much he is moved by noble ideas; you will get better results if you just watch him laugh. If he laughs well, he's a good man.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky 


Monday, June 26, 2017

The Green Place


The Green Place

Over millennia mankind has crafted a myriad of obstacles that hide the doorway to an inviolable part of the soul.  We cover the entrance with arrogance, we cover it with fear.  We visit it only in vulnerability, in brokenness, in wonder. It is a green place that lives in the core of our being, a place which, left ignored or untended, can, over time, turn utterly to dust, leaving us blind to the treasures we are offered in this life. It is an elusive part of the soul, but wisdom floats on its breezes and hope shines down in its light.  I cannot tell you how to get there, I doubt that anyone can.  But you’ll know it when you do.

I have wandered the hillsides of this green place many times, often guided by  poets whose words I cannot explain but understand as well as I do my own name.  They are the weavers of wisdom, people to whom a gift has been given, and so often their words are the incantation that unlocks this door to my soul, setting me loose to wander these illuminated fields like an inarticulate child glimpsing heaven.   Poet David Whyte has written, “Poetry is the language against which we have no defenses.”   And he’s right.  Poetry so often comes bearing a light of truth that only our soul understands.  We need it, especially now.

April was National Poetry Month here in the US and I gave myself a personal challenge of sorts to post a favourite poem each April day on my Instagram page.  Despite my concern that I wouldn’t have enough, I found I had many, many left over and I realized anew how much poetry has influenced and comforted me throughout my life. 

 At present, there seems to be a concentrated effort in the world to devalue the beautiful and denigrate those very things that make the soul breathe.  Empathy is weakness.  Wisdom is superseded by financial success.  When America’s president publicly expresses contempt for the poor and is applauded for it, we have not only turned our backs on truth, but we’ve closed the door on decency as well.   In this time of darkness it is imperative that we find that green place in our soul.  We must dig through any vines that have grown up over the door, dig till our fingers bleed and tears stain our faces.  Once on that hillside we will know we are not alone in our hunger for goodness.  
On that hillside we will hear Shakespeare say, 

“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this scepter sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.  Therefore, Jew, 
Though justice be thy plea, consider this, 
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation:  we do pray for mercy."

We will hear the echo of Mary Oliver’s question:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
 with your one wild and precious life?” 

And we may resolve, like Amy Lowell:
“...For I have time for nothing
But the endeavor to balance myself
Upon a broken world.”

painting above by Gustave Dore