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Recognizing Voices

It's a dreary day in south Georgia, the kind of day on which I'm more apt to be still, to actually read with intent, to give myself a break from the constant drive to DO. I need -- though I do not necessarily wish for -- days like this.

I am weeks weary. My mother's death came on the heels of Thanksgiving and at the beginning of Advent. Amongst the gift-buying and the house-decorating there were thank you notes to write, brief words attempting to express my family's gratitude for what had been done for us in the midst of our loss.

As the year turned and within a period of five days, six people to whom I had a personal or professional connection died, two of them from COVID. A week later a sweet, gentle man that I've known since I was a teenager succumbed to the disease.

As if the personal burdens weren't enough, the storming of the Capitol on January 6 (Epiphany, for heaven's sake!) pounded on the shards of my broken heart and sent me, after too many hours of multi-channel television watching, outside where I walked and walked and cried and cried. I kept thinking of what it means to take an oath, to speak a vow, to make a promise. And, at some point, maybe it was at the crossroads where I had a choice of three different directions to take with my steps, I started questioning whether words mean anything at all in this strangest of times.

I made it back home without an answer.

So on this dreary day in south Georgia (Did I mention I woke up with a headache?), I was far less likely to go looking for encouragement than seeking out justification for my dark mood.

Alas (and gratefully), I found instead an article written by a Jesuit priest titled God's Voice or Mine. The priest, clearly smarter and more in tune with spiritual things than I -- wrote, "When you feel despair, don’t listen to it; when you feel hope, follow it."

Staring at the words, reading them over and over again, I felt my heart grow still. I felt my breath reach deeper in my chest. I felt the gray from the day and in me lift just a little.

And I remembered Wednesday, when a 22-year-old with learning disabilities, a 22-year-old who had resisted the human tendency to turn down help and had accepted the accommodations offered her, a 22-year-old who used that help to find her way to the most venerable educational institution in the country, stood on the steps of the United States Capitol and intoned loudly and convincingly enough for us all to hear, "there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it; if only we're brave enough to be it."

There is always light. Always.

Even on days when the rain is hard and heavy and cold. Even in moments when our mothers can no longer hold us. Even when the crossroads that lies before us is unmarked in every direction. There is always light.

The rain has stopped. The sky is still gray. The rain will return. But so will the light.

Copyright 2021

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