It’s the middle of January. In this hemisphere, that means we are in the thick of winter, buried in snow, crusted with hoar frost.
But not this year. Yesterday, I bundled up and went out to the barn to watch Geneva work with Rachel and Hickory. Standing in the arena with the bright sun on us, I realized that I wanted to take my jacket off. And my muffler. And my gloves. It was fifty four degrees. When I got home, my young buddy across the street drove up in his brand new used Pontiac Solaris. It was gorgeous – a rag-top convertible. Grinning, he put the top down, his mom in the passenger seat, and off they went, wind in their hair.
I finally opened the living room window, just to get that lovely spring feeling in the house.
Are you kidding? Can this weather be anything but a little too good? And I’ve been taught all my life never to trust anything that’s too good—it’s just wise. Sad, huh?
Now, I’m trying to fight off the myriad viruses my children have contributed to us in the last few weeks. I just watched Music and the Spoken Word, the Tabernacle Choir broadcast. The Martin Luther King concert. Beautiful. Just beautiful. And after that, heard the story of the New Zelander women’s world champion squash champ. It will be fifty degrees again today. The kids will come over later for dinner—maybe I can give them back some of these nice little bugs they leant me.
This entry isn’t really about anything. And there are no pictures. I’ve been too busy with editing books and scanning the photo books. But in my head are the pictures of my lovely little horse, my beaming young friend, my delighted dogs rocketing across the dry yard, and the faces of my beautiful sons and daughters.
Maybe winter will come next week.
I’m thinking about Martin Luther King. About how he has been just another hero with clay feet. It was disappointing to hear about his womanizing; that behavior was in such opposition to his message and to the place he took in the world. But this morning, as I was listening to the broadcast, I actually starting thinking about all that (as opposed to just rolling with the tales)—I mean, I didn’t know the man. I don’t know all those negative things by experience, or even by credible report. But even if the reports are true, and it’s entirely possible that they are, none of it changes the work he did, the chances he took, the effect he had on the world.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t be accountable for the choices we make, or for the fact that we can weaken our cause when our lives don’t measure up to our mission. But all this makes me ponder on the great deal of work it takes to be a good human. It seems almost impossible for us to be entirely integral. Like, all our parts are always at war with one another, love and self, rest and guilt, honesty and survival. It’s like we can never be good without being haunted with our flaws.
So, I guess, the triumph is to do the most good we can—to stand for what is true and good and healthy and loving. To do our work the best we can. And also—to practice mercy. Making place for that inside ourselves, understanding that we are all striving for balance and that there is not a single human being who is perfect. The operative word in that last sentence is striving, though. Mercy can’t validate our imperfect choices. But it can allow us to draw strength from the good human beings do. And to honor the good we have done ourselves.
I am so thankful for the men and women who put themselves out there, who try so hard to bring more light into the world, even in the face of personal danger, of mockery, of personal exposure. Dr. King saved a lot of lives. And even now, the fact of his life makes us stop and think and want to be better. So, bless his heart. I am grateful to him.