Above earth’s lamentation

I’m returning to earth after a particularly satisfying week. The launch of my memoir, Shifting Currents, went spectacularly well, and I’ve been basking in the realization that it’s now an actual book and people are reading and, I hope, enjoying it. I’m still struggling with distribution issues—Amazon.com is working well, Amazon.ca still lists it as out of stock (though if you look at ‘more buying choices’ you can order it from Book Depository), and I’m having some issues converting it to an ebook. For local folks, it’s available at Tippy Canoe in Bruce Mines, the Totem Pole at Fourth Line, and the Art Gallery Gift Shop (as of tomorrow). I’ll be checking things out at both Coles stores soon, and it may be available there as well. And until the end of this month, I have a personal supply.

Then, before I’d quite landed back on terra firma, we had our annual hiking weekend with good friends—a combination of hiking, eating too much good food, and drinking just a bit too much good wine. This event has become a fall ritual over the past dozen years. We’ve noticed the balance of activities has changed a bit in that time—what with bad knees, aching joints, and broken bones—but this year all six of us managed a challenging several-hour hike along the shore of Lake Superior and felt we’d earned whatever indulgences followed!

So, it’s been a good week. And yet…

As I found myself humming an old hymn the other day, I thought about how we manage to separate our personal selves from geopolitical realities. Adopted by modern Quakers but originally written by a Baptist minister in the 1860s, its opening lines speak to my bifurcated sense of reality these days.

My life flows on in endless song, Above earth’s lamentation

My life does flow on, if not in endless song at least with a cheerful whistle while I rake the fall leaves; a loud guffaw at the latest Trump idiocy, as though it were not an actual threat to the planet; a flood of happiness when things go well, as they did this past week.

But there can be no doubt that the earth is lamenting. How can it not? Of course, top of mind these last weeks is the debacle being called an election campaign south of the border. Its potentially horrifying outcome at first seeped and has now flooded across this and most media borders. For now at least, our own sunny ways are no match for that grim spectacle.

And speaking of sun—we here in Ontario are having such an oddly warm fall that so far we have had just a few serious frosts and daily temperatures are steadily in double digits. It’s November, for god’s sake. Pleasant as that is for finishing up the last of the garden tasks and hiking on the lake shore, I find it hard not to worry about the planet.

I know, I know. I’ve read the prayer too. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I’m afraid I’ve never been granted any of those. So I worry. I worry about what will happen on November 8 and the days that follow. I worry about my grandchildren’s futures. I worry about the sense of a new Cold War looming and the potentially terrible outcome in a world suddenly (or perhaps not so suddenly) gripped by sectarianism and intolerance.

And then I find myself humming again as I pull out the last of the chard and Brussels sprouts, chewed almost to the ground by my resident deer, and prepare the garden for winter, which will come in its own good time.

Take a deep breath. And keep singing.

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3 Responses to Above earth’s lamentation

  1. I often find myself singing that wonderful song! Thank you for this good read. Dorothy

  2. carolynrmiller says:

    Being unchurched, I didn’t know this song, so I found it on YouTube. Here’s the Pete Seeger version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4nKrFLQiE0

    • pdunning says:

      Yes, we have that cd. And I didn’t learn this song because I was “churched”–learned it much later in life than that!

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