Another Spring

March 19, 2014

Gracious Living Day by DaySpring arrives tomorrow.

Spring. proleće, primavera… are there lovelier sounds in this world?

Today the day is dark, overcast, stormy and rain is steadily whipping the window panes. The dirty snowbanks still clinging to the muddy ground don’t have a chance. Their time is over.

Flowers on my windowsill Flowers on my windowsill

This time last year we had just moved into our new house and as I painted the rooms during the following weeks I spent hours listening to the news on NPR. My family and I were so happy to have found a lovely home that suited us well, but I remember curbing my joy because of so much sadness in the world. The Boston Marathon bombing in April. Not long before that Newtown. Conflicts all over the world: Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Somalia, D.R. Congo, Nigeria, Israel, Palestine, India, Burma, Thailand, Colombia.

How does a person find peace and serenity in one’s life while not closing one’s eyes to the suffering of others?

I struggle with this every day. I have always believed, and still believe, that I have the responsibility to bear witness and acknowledge what is happening in this world during my lifespan. I cannot use the excuse of ignorance or lack of influence or powerlessness. I cannot turn my head away from suffering.

Most days I do what I can, in small, unremarkable ways. I try to be there when people need me. I am not a person who casts a wide canvas. I work on small screens.

Tomorrow another spring arrives. My family and I are happily ensconced in our new home, although we have not completely unpacked yet. There are boxes in the garage and in the basement. Pictures have not been hung, there’s work that still needs to be done. We have been busy and distracted with troubles of our own. And it has been too cold this winter to do much else than hibernate and survive.

But now that it’s warming up I will be emptying boxes and organizing my kitchen so it functions better. I will be unpacking beloved old pictures and finding a spot for them on this or that wall. Cleaning the dust and cobwebs of winter and opening the windows to fresh spring air.

And I’ll be listening to the news on the radio, witnessing other people’s struggles. Trying to understand why nothing ever seems to change.

Domesticity helps me survive. I find comfort in creating a bit of sanity, a bit of beauty, order and repose for the people I love. For me, this life would be unbearable without a quiet room, flowers on a window sill, bookshelfs filled with favorite books, family and friends enjoying dinner around a large table…

These are the things that give me strength not to turn away.

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