Today I’m feeling particularly sad. I have come up against moments in the past days and weeks that make me feel, among other things, helpless in the face of mountains of the experiences of my own life and the experiences of others. Last night I sat with a friend at the gazebo at my apartment, talking about heartache and disappointment. I noticed a spider spinning a web at the top of the gazebo, under the light that shone down to light it up. Here I want to resort to empty phrases like ‘we watched in awe’ and  ‘we were inspired’ but the lasting impression that the moments of watching the spider in her delicate task of creating a web (in an effort to feed herself) was that it seemed very natural.

Sadness, in its inexplicable vastness, has come to feel very natural to me. I don’t feel sad most days and I don’t feel incapable of joy. Instead I am struck by moments- spiders spinning their webs, siblings fighting, rain falling tentatively on pavement, and then furiously. I belt out a song in my car that cuts through to incredible pain, but the vocal cords are satisfied. I’m satiated by the aroma of fresh basil in my fridge. I hug my friends with a new ferocity.

Thomas Merton:

There is in all things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly.

I don’t give into the sadness and feel as if it will engulf me. Instead, I provide space. I move over a bit on my bench, give a little room for it to wait for me as the bus arrives at the bus stop. I marvel with it at the way the light shines through the trees. I nudge it, I growl at it, I peer over my glasses skeptically. But I give it space.

and Lord help you in your place

of hope, and improbables

-Mary Olver

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