I awaken to moonlight– it is at that particular slant that lights up the front yard at 3 AM. What really has awakened me is my husband’s breathing. It is labored like he has just run up a flight of stairs. At times I awaken because I do not hear his breath and some alarm goes off in my head to check him. And if I can not hear him breathing I put my hand lightly on his chest so as not to wake him to see if I can feel the his heart beating. Feeling it pulsing in my hand I am reassured once more. I am not alone in this. My sister-in-law confides in me that she wakes up at night to listen to my brother to see if he is still breathing. My first-grade friend says much the same. She does a breathing check on her husband. Our husbands are relatively well. They have diabetes, heavy smoking and drinking, a delicate frame among them, but they are not on death’s door so far as we know. And yet we are plagued by morbid fears.
In the wee hours of morning fears loom large. My husband’s heartbeat, a mere flutter, seems so delicate. I am reassured that it is beating just as I am reassured that he is breathing. But the breath itself is so fragile. It scares me awe-fully– the fragility of the breath, the fine line between breathing and cessation of breath.
I prowl the house. Through the skylight the stars beam brightly along with a shining half moon. A clear day tomorrow. But it is already tomorrow. It is so still my ears hum. My husband, who knows so many interesting things, tells me the humming I hear is the sound of the nervous system. Our bodies hold such mystery.
I look out the window, now hearing my neighbor’s dogs barking quietly. I look for coyote thinking that is what they are barking at, but see nothing. The moonlit grass on the lawn is whitish silver, looking almost as if it had snowed, and the water in the marsh sparkles in the moonlight. The deep woods behind are pitch dark, the home of many a creature. Nothing stirs. It is too early for the birds. The house across the way is always dark; it is up for sale. And in the other direction, at this hour, no lights shine in the driveway of the house down the road.
I am reminded of a line from a poem by Tagore “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” I am at my most faithless at 3 AM.
Along with the supreme beauty of Tagore’s thoughts, a frivolous line from an old song runs through my head: “There ought to be a moonlight savings time…” and the line continues so there would be more time for loving. But moonlight in the middle of the night also brings with it intense dreads.
Now chilled I finally go back to bed. An owl hoots in the distance– a reassuring sound. My husband is breathing freely now. His body is warm in the bed and I am filled with love for him as he lays in a heap, so trustingly in the arms of sleep. Our marriage a wonder. Unexpected. An endless source of ever increasing love brimming not only with joy but also the dread of loss. Perhaps all wives check their husbands for breathing. Perhaps there is an army of women out there prowling the wee hours of the night, at times by moonlight, checking on their husbands, their children, their animals to see that they all have that breath of life flowing.
“There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.” Rumi said that. And it is breath of love that I must master.
Here is a letter to read and sign (if you are so inclined) on the election in the United States of Donald Trump. I am in no state to write about this unthinkable outcome. In grief and shock, anger and fear and in the minority, Ellen
Dear Mr. Trump,
This is not what greatness looks like.
The world rejects your fear, hate-mongering, and bigotry. We reject your support for torture, your calls for murdering civilians, and your general encouragement of violence. We reject your denigration of women, Muslims, Mexicans, and millions of others who don’t look like you, talk like you, or pray to the same god as you.
Facing your fear we choose compassion. Hearing your despair we choose hope. Seeing your ignorance we choose understanding.
As citizens of the world, we stand united against your brand of division.
Sometimes in the darkest moments the brightest lights shine. Let’s make Trump a force that brings the world together, to fight for everything we love.
Ricken, Alice, Emma, Christoph and the whole Avaaz team
Avaaz is a 44-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
in the valley
the devil’s lair,
thou seemeth to be shy
with your glossy, glassy tears.
One day we all must die
and we all have fulsome fears
It is not
for lack of trying
your life to live;
it is not from sins of lying
or reluctance to give.
You lived your life purely,
always kneeling demurely,
and though your petals turn to crepe
your form still has a humble drape,
still praising He who made you
in your last living days
and inspiring us to follow suit
in your reverent ways.
For whatever reason these days are days of high anxiety for me, nervousness to the point of tears. Meditations are “noisy” with all thoughts and negative ones in particular. To deal with this I share with you a helpful 9:06 minute webcast on fear and love with Jack Kornfield and Catherine Ingram.
in the dark violet
fill the windows
for I am full of fear
in the silent hum