Monday, May 12, 2008

Going On: Love in a Time of Crisis

I'm sitting down to write today almost against my will.

For almost eighteen months, I've been struggling to write about all the intensity going on in my head. I think out posts in my mind, imagining what I am going to write and planning when I will actually post it. Many nights at 3:00 AM I consider going downstairs, flicking on the computer, and just pushing that orange "publish post" button before I start worrying what other people will think. ("Is she a total nut? a conspiracy theorist? suicidal? a doomer? And whatever happened to the fiber arts, for goodness' sake?!")

My fears about what is happening to the world certainly have come through at times in various posts. I'm sure all of you who still come for the knitting were a bit overwhelmed by my angst about global hunger, for example. But for a long time, even after I said I was ready, I've been too scared to go too far into what my fears are, what we are currently doing, and what we are thinking we may do in the future.

I think I may be ready to start.

* * *

My nine-year-old son has picked up far more than he needs to about issues such as climate change, peak oil, violence and war, economic collapse, etc. He has overheard and sometimes participated in conversations with us and with our friends. The news on the radio seeps into his life with a lot more intensity than I realized for a while. And even his much younger friends are coming home from school with details about species extinction and the like.

On a recent evening--right before the cold wet snap we are currently in--we took our dinner outside for our weekly Earth Hour celebration. As our son ran around the garden covering up the growing potato sprouts, checking on the radishes, and pulling a few weeds, David and I talked more about the possibility of moving to a co-housing farm--something we've been contemplating for about a year.

We were talking about the difficulties we might have selling our house, the fact that we might be more car dependent even while at the same time less reliant on non-renewable energy otherwise (due to solar power, etc.), etc. All our panics and insecurities about changing our lives so radically came to the surface.

Son joined us, nervously coming to sit on my lap. He broke into tears and said how afraid he was of the future, how ashamed he was of the way human beings could be both to each other and to the world.

(He is always an emotional child prone to take everything very seriously. But usually he is far less overwhelmed than he was that evening--a time when he was absolutely exhausted from a long and busy day. But I know I must be much more careful what I say or show in front of him.)

As he dried his eyes, I asked him what he thought could help him feel better. He answered immediately and very clearly:

"We need to DO something--really do something much bigger than anything we have done before!"

I am ready.

* * *

And today, Sharon at Casaubon's Book writes:

"What could work--with great difficulty--is for us to enlist our fellows in a great project of courage and self-sacrifice. People climb mountains, run marathons, march off to be killed at war, and engage in all sorts of grand, painful and difficult challenges because doing so expresses their sense of honor, their courage, their patriotism, their love for others. As long as we fear to call upon one another to sacrifice, as long as we sell the narrative that an essentially similar life is possible, as long as we deny the costs, we will give up the greatest tool we have - the passionate energy of those who are doing what must be done for a better future."

* * *

What our family can do (as a family, as opposed to any actions that David and I might make as adults) must be something that allows our child to feel joyful--and to feel safer than he now feels. I'll talk soon about some of the changes we are going to try to make--but for now, let me leave it with this:

Life as we know it will change--yes, absolutely. But it is essential that our son know that the most essential thing will always last: our love and our commitment to care for one another.

This photograph, of which I was reminded at this blog, was taken by Dorothea Lange during the Great Depression. With its mother reveling in her peaceful sleeping child, it shows the great power--and simplicity--of relationship, no matter how difficult the circumstances of one's world may be.

I am struck by the great courage it can sometimes take just to invest fully in love and joy. Never let me forget it.


The Tell-Tale Heart said...


In a way, this is very much what immigrant parents have done for thier children for generations. We too are on our way to a new place.

I am so glad to be travelling with you.

With love and in search of joy -- D

Francesca said...

I have not been around much, I know (too far gone in my own interior journey) and I'm sorry. But I applaud so thoroughly your courage and strength and determination. And I do believe -- utterly and wholly - that we can create growing gardens of beauty and wholeness and loveliness in our lives and hearts and homes. That you are willing to try sharing that in the wider world -- so wonderful!

Carrie K said...

That link was fascinating. I have no hope that we'll all band together - or even a majority - and fix things before they all go to hell, but OTOH, we've been going to hell in a handbasket ever since we rose out of the primordial slime.

But also I think that we are living in times of great prosperity and peace and we don't stop to appreciate it what we do have. We worry about what could happen (or will), and forget just how bad the past really was.

Sara said...


I know this post will be percolating at the back of my brain for some time to come.

That picture is great.

JHS said...

Thanks for participating in this week's very special Memorial Day Edition of the Carnival of Family Life at Colloquium! Stop by and check out some of the other wonderful articles included in this edition!


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