I told you four years ago that I didn’t think that April was the cruelest month (April: Cruelest Month (?), Earth Day, Earth Mother, and the Possible Limitations of Agnosticism). I am still on board with that thought, but T.S. Eliot’s words, the beautiful flowers, and gravestones are keeping me on some emotional edge. Maybe it is because Tom and I have taken to walking through Arlington National Cemetery–just a few blocks from where we now live.
I keep thinking of the ones I love: here and now and way back when. The young, the old, the healthy, the sick, the troubled, and the dead are all crowding around in my head. I remember the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, in April. I remember when our youngest son was born, in April. That year, the spring tree green was just starting when we came home from the hospital. My baby son and I sat together on the couch hour after hour and day after day until the spring green turned to full green. I first went to Zion National Park in April. It was spring, and through the night, boulders rattled down the canyonsides in the spring runoff.
A week or so ago, I was at my friend Kate’s place and her lilac was blooming near her Zen garden. First lilac of the season for me. (I didn’t get a photo, sorry. My hands were dirty with planting the lettuce and Swiss chard seedlings). Since then I have been thinking not just about T.S.Eliot, but also of Walt Whitman: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” which was written after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. I remember Lincoln’s words and I think about mercy.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” (from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address)
Today, Tom and I walked to Fort Bennett Park and Palisades Trail–about a mile from our condo. We found what we were looking for: two bald eagles in a giant nest taking care of their young. Until today, in all my years of wishing and searching, I have never reliably seen bald eagles flying free. I am hopeful today that we may yet bind up the nation’s wounds.
My April wish: May you be well. May you be happy. May you have peace. Or as “The Wasteland” has it:
Shantih shantih shantih