The sound, soft and reminiscent, didn’t register at first. As wakefulness spread across my body like a good brandy warming the belly, I realized the novel sound was a first spring rain. The ground lay white with snow still, our woods gray and dreary. But to hear and see the rain from the vantage of first morning’s light felt delicious, almost exhilarating.
It was a Saturday too; meaning there would be no alarm clocks taunting us with the start of the countdown to house exodus, no rush to ready a distract-able kindergartner, no immediate battle over why hair must be brushed “yes, Every. Single. Day.”
Quickly that same morning the rain gauge made its annual outbound commute back to its collecting duties. We missed a smidgeon of the first rain but not much, and I labeled it a happy start to another year reporting the daily precipitation numbers to our area’s conservation district.
Watching the weather and the earth this time of the year is akin to noticing the daily differences in my baby boy. The incremental changes are tiny but build and build until suddenly, the pussy willows have popped and the red willow is alighting the roadside in a shock of color against the early spring grays. Soon we’ll have the first buds and blooms and then small swaths of green and finally the lush, wet grandeur of June.
Julian is 4-months old now. He coos and babbles as he wakes up from his many daily naps, and each time I greet him hello I’m fairly certain his smile must be visible from outer space. He’s starting to laugh now too, which of course is the most joyful noise ever.
Oh, the love I feel for this little being is as overwhelming as the vastness of the ocean and as infinite as the night sky. I can hold him as he sleeps, whispering my fingers along his sweet skin, and my love boils over like emotional lava, emanating from the familiar depths of my gut where abides my righteous fear and power and awe, that unknowable place that knows without a doubt what is true and good and right in the world.
Some mornings, he sleeps in the middle of our great bed, wholly unaware of how much space he consumes in our lives already. I am often shocked silent and rocked into the flow of presence at the all-encompassing love and my desperate need for him to know it, believe in it, and rely on it intrinsically.
I startle out of a thoughtless reverie at times, not even realizing I am studying him in all his changing growing details as if my very life depended on it.
He is beautiful. Gorgeous even. The splotchy red stork bite splashed across his eyelids and forehead is a perfect constellation of stubbornness and mischievousness. His steely blue eyes wrangle my mood like it’s as malleable as clay. And his dimple. Lordy, that dimple is going to win just the right heart someday.
But then there are the times when being so open to such great love also brings unasked for glimpses of the great chasm, the collective pain body, and I grieve with a million mothers who have lost their child. I cry with the cries of a million children who will never know a parent’s love or a mother’s touch. I nearly wretch at the exploitative evil that can exist towards our innocent ones. How can it be possible that millions upon millions of children at this exact moment are being mistreated, neglected, abused, abducted, raped, killed? At this exact moment that I sit here and love my baby with a force that is surely stronger than anything else?
I watch Julian splash in absolute glee in the bath or hear him communicating as best he knows how when he’s hungry and tired or notice his concentration as he wills his fingers to grasp what he wants, and I feel ashamed that there are adults who would misuse the perfect innocence of a newcomer to this earth.
I am in love but I am also so angry. And then I wonder how these two can exist side by side? It sent me on a short-lived search pouring through various texts during one of his naptimes for the philosophical purpose of evil. My mind tries to rationalize that there must be some great function it serves, (the very crux of humanity’s freewill, perhaps?) or it wouldn’t be so prevalent in our world.
But for an empath, to manage to study, learn and understand the existence of evil doesn’t jive with the schedule a mother keeps. Soon his waking chatter calls me back to what truly matters in the here and now. And when I quietly approach his sleeping nest, there again greeting me is that million-dollar smile, the white of two bottom teeth just recently visible on the gum line.
Soon, the warmer weather will call us outside to be barefoot and free on an earth that forgives all evil without even labeling it so. We’ll dance in the spring-turned-summer rain in gratitude. We’ll explore and rest amongst the trees young and old that overlook all of mankind’s selfishness with a grace I’ll likely never master. We’ll practice the determination of the sapling and the tenacity of the dandelion. We’ll channel the wiry strength of the springtime streams that carry the weight of a season’s change. And we’ll emulate the quiet instruction of wildlife’s many mothers as they drop their fawns, roust out their cubs and tend to their eggs. We’ll live as true and as close to the earth’s guidance as we can, knowing all the while that just like every other creature, we can never know what happens beyond right now.
We may never understand why certain things are the way they are, so we’ll simply keep going. We’ll keep being. We’ll keep working our way out of our minds and into our bodies, into the flow of the earth, because that is the way of it. That is the unwritten rule of living. And that is what love bids us do.