It's the holiday season. A time of baking cookies and hanging wreaths and decorating the tree. It's one of my favorite times of the year. And yet this year, I can barely breathe with the weight of the sadness hanging over us all.
I try not to spend hours obsessing over the news. I catch up on Facebook, quickly, scanning. But I also don't want to hide out and stick my head under the covers. That has never been my way.
I read articles from Greenpeace. The Climate talks in Paris. Secret transports of nuclear waste. Slavery on fishing boats. Forests burning. Smog at an all time high. People told to stay inside. I read updates from the camp in Calais. I see photos posted of a teeny tiny girl who was killed during air strikes in Syria, her father's body around hers, trying in vain to protect her. I read about families displaced, stories of refugees. The woman who spent her whole life growing her family in one place, only to have them spread across the world. Scattered. And she having to leave home at the age of 72 to keep her sons safe. There are thousands of stories just like hers.
I cry for days and days and days. At odd moments, all alone. With people around me, the tears threaten. During a kid's movie. Writing emails. Making tea. Running errands. Trying to fall asleep. I feel the violence and the terror and the anguish and I have no answers. We're making such a royal mess of it all. Over and over.
I tell my children to look for the positive. I tell them to remember that no matter what, there are beautiful people out there doing brave things to save the planet and save other people. People are building up while others are tearing down. I tell them to stay brave and to remember that light is stronger than darkness.
Sometimes it's hard to listen to one's own advice.
In the quiet of early morning I look to the woods and see the way the light falls. The quiet beauty, the perfect balance. I wonder if God watches the light rising on another day in each part of the world and wonders why He bothered. I wonder, as I sometimes do on the very bad days when the bickering never ends and we talk in circles and I have to raise my voice and still it does not help ... if He too despairs of his creations. If He had stopped with the deer and the rabbits and the elephants. Just left this beautiful planet to go on peacefully. The fish to swim, the turtles to drift. The lion to roam. Balance. Peace. Instead here we are - greedy and hungry and demolishing the very earth we need for our survival. He must want to wipe the slate clean. Most days.
Instead He sends us sunsets, bursting with color and light. He lets the woods grow wild and the light that falls, softly, takes my breath away. He knows the power of a soft hand holding mine at the end of a long day, the gentle quiet of a child's breathing in sleep. The way the early morning quiet holds the promise of a new day.
I walk in the woods. I look for poetry. I search for beautiful images to remind me why we are here. I play my favorite music and remember to paint. Times like these we have no choice but to go on. To pick up our pencils, our cameras, our paintbrushes. Take to our keyboards, continue the work. Light the candles no matter how stifling the darkness. No matter how many times they are blown out.