The beauty and the sorrow

I started thinking about the things I’m sad about: frozen butterfly

• the murderous rampages of Elliot Rodger and others who’ve stolen the young lives of innocent people in these past weeks – so many, so very  many!…
• the quiet, peaceful deaths of Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, and those like them who embodied so much that is beautiful and good in our humanity; the sense of loss such deaths bring…
• or the fact that we can’t see 98% of the stars that should be visible to us because we’ve so fouled the air with smog and spoiled the night sky with man-made light….
• or that so many men, women, and children are being violated and/or violently killed because of hatred and the wanton abuse of power and an inability to hold a human life sacred…
• that crass lust for wealth and power by some and indifference by too many are destroying the hopes and diminishing the lives of so many…
• or that the planet is being raped and destroyed by all of us — the very creatures that should be tending and caring for it…

I had to stop myself because the list began to grow too long, so grievously long and sad! I didn’t want to write a lament, even though that’s what my heart has been feeling. Then I took a call from a young pastor who is thinking about accepting an invitation to minister in a new church, and as we talked I thought about him and his remarkable faith and wonderful heart and the gifts he brings to people, and I thought about all the people I know who are hungering for and open to the nurture he can give, and I took heart again. I became suddenly very happy for him and for the people who will receive him.Seesaw

It’s been like that: a seesaw back and forth from happiness to despair, from horror to happiness, from depression to hope, all week. When I visit the blog site of Rachel Wiley (at The Red Tent), who so obviously loves life and the family she cherishes… or when I gaze at the amazingly beautiful and often poignant photographs of other people I follow who love to capture and share the pathos and beauty of the earth and its creatures through the lens of their cameras… or when I drink from the cup that a woman named Ino once gave me and recall her motherly generosity and gentle heart… or when I remember the laughter I’ve shared with someone I love – then I’m on the up side of the seesaw again, moved with joy in the sheer gift that we can be to each other, and the greater gift of this amazing living, breathing planet and the people who can take us back to Eden again.

I pray I may have the will never to take for granted the beauty that is offered to me every single day. But I also don’t want to give up being able to see what is wrong. Because the truth of life is full of both beauty and sorrow, and I need the truth more than I need a comfortable illusion. I sometimes wish I could only see the good. I’ve known people who try to edit out of their life anything that doesn’t build up and make happy, and I know that most people prefer to be around them, because it feels so much better. For a long time I could only see the down side of things. But I’ve grown up a lot and healed a lot, and I found that most of the time I can see both sides now, sometimes all too clearly. It’s a difficult way to live sometimes, I admit. 

So I may always experience my life as a kind of swinging between the counterbalancing movements of the seesaw, from high to low and back again, because there are both sides of that teetering board in life, in the way we’ve made the world. It’s a balancing act.  I know in my heart that it’s really all of a piece, that God is with us both on the downswing and in the upswing, and I believe the mystics who say that in the mystery of life it is all of a piece. But I still feel torn much of the time, carrying great sadness in my heart and yet capable of feeling great peace and even a quiet joy.

There’s a line I once read (I have no idea now where or who wrote it, it was so many years ago!) that I’ve never forgotten. It said, “In the days of the frost, seek a minor sun.”  Those words often helped me when I found it hard to swing up from the low points. Except it isn’t a minor sun I seek anymore. It’s the light of the Divine I seek, shining behind the fabric of all that we see. So when I can’t get the teeter-totter off the ground I look up, and there is always something that reflects the beauty of holiness back to me somewhere — as it did today. For that I give thanks and from it take encouragement.

Spring meadow of violet flower.



Blessings to you, whether you are up or down today. May you always know that at the other end of the teetering balance board (as it seems to us),  the world is still beautiful and good.

Seesaw Photo © Jareso –
Sunrise © Andrii Salivon – Fotolia





Author: Linda Robinson

Writer, Christian contemplative, concerned citizen.