I have stopped and started two posts in the last week, posts I was writing out of duty, out of an attempt at discipline. Everything I wrote sounded like something I had already written, and I began to think over the past year and I wondered, has anything really changed? I’m still wandering through my days like a teenager in the mall on her own for the first time. I pick things up only to put them back down again, staring straight through the air around me, confined to the boundaries of someone else’s design.
There are two nagging voices in my head. One is a direct consequence of listening to too much NPR, because someone’s voice there has turned itself into an earworm and now every word I write is narrated by this dull voice. I don’t even know who this voice belongs to, only she sounds bored. The other voice is deeper, more sinister, and may actually be Benedict Cumberbatch. This voice repeats itself on a loop: “Do you really think they want to read that?”
My head feels obtrusively empty. My heart, however, is full, heavy, like an overloaded bucket of water. Every now and again I spill over, out of my head and into the day, but I have not an inch of time lately to do much more than mop it up and move on. My heart is heavy carrying the burdens of others, friends and family, whom I hold dear, and who are hurting.
I have often imagined my heart is a peach, and now and then God uses His thumb to press someone deep into my thoughts, bruising me, marking me, keeping that person on the front of my mind, close to each thought as if they held a stake in every decision I made. A few friends are close enough to see, to hug, to physically hold hands with should we kneel together to pray. But most are distant, too far to hold, though my arms ache to, and though I wish to place my shoulder next to theirs to make their burden lighter, I am left wandering, unsure what to do. I pray, consistently, I can’t NOT pray, though words sometimes fail me, and I hold out these precious people in my mind as a child holds out a freshly scraped hand to the father who is expected to heal it.
There is a song I think of each September, called “Try to Remember.” It is easy to see why, as the lyrics go, “Try to remember the kind of September, When life was slow, and oh, so mellow…” It is a beautiful song. It is from the musical The Fantasticks, written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. The Fantasticks was the first play I read before hearing or knowing anything of it otherwise. I found it at our library one day. I was probably twelve, and it interested me, though I couldn’t explain why. Soon I found a copy of a staged production on VHS, in one of those crazy black boxes they put the tapes in at the library. It felt old. It smelled old, as often library items did. I remember feeling shy about my new fascination with this strange play. I felt especially connected to the character of the Mute, who gets to portray, among other things, a wall. (Ah, the sweet glimpses into my psyche.)
I have a hard time remembering the lyrics of this song. They are not complicated, but they are poetic. I could no longer stand to have just the first line repeat itself over and over in my mind, so tonight, as I resisted the self-imposed directive to sit and write, I found the song on Spotify, and closed my eyes to listen.
This song mentions two months. Not just September, but also December. I guess by December all the Christmas music has seeped into every crevice of my brain, but I never think of this song during December. Tonight, by the time the song reached that verse, my bucket full of burdens had spilt over. And I found myself once again holding out a prayer.
Sweet Father, December has come to so many of my precious friends, my family.
of relentless days and nights,
are weighing down their souls so that they cannot take in a full breath of your sweet air, and find refreshment. Deep in December, oh, help us remember.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. ~Psalm 46:1
My friends, my family, I love you.