I felt a Cleaving in my Mind —
Here’s a timely poem from Emily Dickinson. She captures what it’s like to be at loose ends. Unable to think straight, sort out feelings, or fit oneself into the new reality. My personal comments follow.
I felt a Cleaving in my Mind –
As if my Brain had split –
I tried to match it – Seam by Seam –
But could not make them fit.
The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before –
But Sequence raveled out of Sound
Like Balls – upon a Floor.
Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995
Things undone aren’t easily put back together. Especially when accompanied by relentless news reports and photos I’d rather not see. Faces of jubilation; women and men in shocked disbelief; children weeping from fear. The presidential election was a massive Cleaving in my Mind.
Is this our new reality? Out of control. Out of bounds. Out of patience. Out of solutions. Out of hope. Out of compassion. Out of generosity. Out of truth-telling. Our deficits are phenomenal.
And yet I’m called to faithfulness, courage, boldness and creativity.
I don’t believe there’s a magic or even supernatural solution to all this confusion. Human confusion is our normal state of being on any given day. Confusion about who I am, who you are, what’s going on, who’s in charge, what’s right and what’s wrong, what will bring me happiness, and how to get out of this mess.
I know one thing: I won’t get out of this confusion. Not all of it. My thoughts and emotions are important parts of who I am. But they don’t offer answers that dispel all confusion. Even my best efforts won’t drive confusion away. They may, in fact, make things worse.
I don’t believe the answer is about what I do, feel or think. It’s about who I am—which, of course, affects what I do, feel and think. Yet the starting point is always ‘Who am I right now?’
Thankfully, this has not changed. No election will take this away from me: I am God’s beloved daughter child. Not by privilege, but by grace. I’m not God’s only child, nor am I God’s special child. God has more than enough love, patience, mercy and kindness for each of us. In a strange way, it isn’t about us; it’s about God.
I don’t know what this looks like from one day to the next. And I don’t know exactly where it will lead me. I do, however, know that moving forward one tiny step each day as God’s beloved daughter child is more than enough. All I need to do is keep taking baby steps. Especially when the mist is so dense I can’t see where this is leading, and ocean swells rise deep beneath me.
Knowledge about who I am doesn’t reconstruct my brain and it won’t restring the tiny beads that just skittered all over the floor. It does, however, refocus my anxiety and confusion. I am responsible for three things, no more and no less: loving God with all my heart; loving myself, and loving my neighbor as I love myself.
I don’t need to understand what can’t be understood. I just need to keep inching forward step by step, going with the situation directly in front of me. I can’t control human confusion—mine or anyone else’s. But I can speak with my neighbor, comfort a child, offer a listening ear or send up a silent prayer.
I pray this Sabbath rest will find you listening and trusting.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 November 2016
Image found at wsj.com (Wall Street Journal)