Sunday, February 16, 2014

Year Summaries Dredge Up Unpleasant Memories

An older woman recently mentioned that she writes a yearly summary, just for herself, sort of like an old-style Christmas newsletter, but for her own pleasure and memory.

I liked that idea. I do an annual farm retrospective, but that's not really a full-life picture. Where did we go camping when I was a girl? Who were my friends? Have a page or two of highlights annually, and that's a nice little life summary.

Since I have three years of digital calendars, I started with 2013 and worked backwards. It was pretty fun to do 2013. Many months of morning sickness, but also a trip in January for Gramps's 90th birthday and a trip in December with a magical day at Sea World. A year bookended with celebratory trips, plus a new baby, a new building. Fabulous.

And then I did 2012. We went and saw Beauty and the Beast in the theater in January. Oh, right. Because Isaiah's beloved pet duck had been eaten by the neighbor dog. It was raining that day, too. Then we had the calf die, the chicks die, the bull die. And we closed out the year with Phil taking an unwanted break to wait for his strained ligaments to heal.

Just recording the basics of that year dropped me down emotionally. That's right--I had basically despaired before I went to get a constitutional remedy from a homeopath.

It took me a few days before I was ready to even think about 2011. That was a crummy year, too. We started with the frantic push to try to get a full-service farm up in six months, selling beef, pork, chicken, dairy, eggs, vegetables, maybe even fruit. But January was spent trying to get the truck working and ordering many things in bulk. May was looking good. And by early July, we'd had a Jersey cow go from five gallons a day to dead; our egg-layers stop laying due (we think) to a virus introduced by the new chicks; a few dozen broilers almost ready for the freezer killed by a neighbor dog; hundreds of tomato plants set fruit once and die. Then the freezer conked out with several thousand dollars worth of pork that we gave away. And we spent the latter part of the year trying to pick up the pieces from the January buying spree. None of the 1000 raspberries fruited. None of the 100 blackberries fruited. Phil loves his big blue barn, but, wow, that year had its share (and maybe more) of disappointments and heart ache.

After feeling down for a couple of days, I mentioned to Phil that I don't feel like I've really healed from those years. If I think about them, I'm still really sad. Just saying that made me tear up.

"Why do you get teary?" was Phil's question. (This asked not in a snarky, mean way, but more the way a counselor might ask it, a thoughtful, tell me more question.)

That was clarifying for me. I think I had been walking around with this vague sense of amorphous yuck, this lack of resolution for a few years of deep disappointments and a whole lot of deaths.

I have been reading Timothy Keller's Encounters with Jesus. He talks about Jesus going to the tomb of Lazarus, and how, when he gets there he is, as is translated, "deeply moved."
But this verse contains a Greek word that means "to bellow with anger".... Jesus is absolutely furious. He's bellowing with rage--he is roaring. Who or what is he angry at?...

Dylan Thomas was right: "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Jesus is raging against death. He doesn't say, "Look, just get used to it. Everybody dies. That's the way of the world. Resign yourself." No, he doesn't do that. Jesus is looking squarely at our greatest nightmare—the loss of life, the loss of loved ones and of love—and he's incensed. He's mad at evil and suffering."

It is hard for me to put into words how well-timed it was for me to read that, just as I had been contemplating the years of death that we have had. It isn't a sign that I am not a strong enough person if I'm still upset when I think of Isaiah's tears when his duck died. That was a horrible thing. It's okay to rage. Jesus did, too.

So why did I get teary? Because in those years, I was thrust into a deeper understanding of death, death piled on death. But I think it feels restorative enough, at least for today, to remember that Jesus, too, railed against death. And tears, even a few years later, is not an inappropriate response to death.

1 comment:

  1. Those were totally depressing have a right to feel burdened by them. Prayerfully now you've turned a corner and things will improve.