I felt a Cleaving in my Mind — | Emily Dickinson
I wrote this immediately after the November 2016 election of Mr. Trump. It still rings true–no matter who wins the November 2020 election.
Here’s a timely poem from Emily Dickinson. What’s it like to be at loose ends? My 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.
Yet I’m called to faithfulness, courage, boldness and creativity.
There isn’t a magic or even supernatural solution to all this confusion. Human confusion is our normal state of being. 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. Though my thoughts and emotions are important, 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.
The answer isn’t about what I do, feel or think. It’s about who I am. Right now. True, this affects what I do, feel and think. Yet the starting point is always ‘Who am I right now?’
Thankfully, this hasn’t changed. No election can take this away. I’m God’s beloved daughter child. Not by privilege, but by grace. I’m not God’s only or 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, or exactly where it’s leading. I do 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 within 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: loving God with all my heart; loving myself, and loving my neighbor as I love myself.
I don’t need to understand everything. I do need to keep inching forward step by step, based on the situation I’m facing. 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 finds you listening and trusting, no matter how bleak or uncertain things look right now.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 November 2016, lightly edited and reposted 1 September 2020
Image found at wsj.com (Wall Street Journal)
First of all, I love the word “skittered,”. It’s so fun and immediately produced the picture of the beads as they hit the floor.
You had me worried with the number of paragraphs of hopelessness. I was relieved when we got to the “but God” section. Remembering to do those 3 things makes a complicated world manageable
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Yes…hopelessness indeed. I think waking up in 2016 and hearing Trump was to become our new President did me in bigtime. Sort of like my worst fear come true. I believe we live constantly in ‘human confusion.’ Which really means only God sees the big picture. We don’t. So we have to ‘muddle through’ sometimes as best we can. No matter who our President might be (for example).
As for ‘skittered,’ besides also loving that word, I always think about it when someone just ‘upset the apple cart’ and things are scrambled into One Grand Mess!
Thanks, Marilyn, for your comments, and for all you’ve done to encourage me.