I am earning new gray hairs. Only today a solitary white hair forced its way out of my scalp as I wrestled my angry four year old into the house after he slapped his little sister. I swear that my little white hair made an auditory, “ping” as it sprung forth in all of it’s wiry glory. I’m aging and that’s good. But some days I feel so ancient. Especially under the weight of what our world is experiencing. Our family has endured trauma of so many kinds. We have spent years in Massachusetts keeping Jack alive, never knowing if we will make ends meet, never knowing if Jack will make it to the next month. We made it through all of that and came home to California and have been met with catastrophic fires, financial hardship, and now, wouldn’t you know it, pandemic. Each of these times of profound stress are little chinks at my walls and I’m finally getting a bit wobbly.
We are, many of us, forced to hunker down and be at home. The level of rest should be high but, instead, many of us are experiencing enormous stress and worry. There are so many reasons to feel overwhelmed. Small businesses are hurting, people are losing incomes, kids are suddenly at home all day when they typically has a reliable routine and many of us are concerned for the safety of those we love who are most vulnerable to Covid-19. I know we are far from the only ones who are feeling the perfect storm of strain that this time is putting on their lives.
Two days ago, The Bearded Wonder (TBW) was driving to work. By work, I mean that he parks his truck somewhere far away from people because he can’t risk going into the office and because our house is too loud and chaotic. He works all day in his truck with just his laptop, a makeshift desk, and all of the weight of keeping his business from crumbling and his family of seven from going hungry pressing down hard on his shoulders.
As he was driving, he passed a stray dog running along the street. The dog had a leash trailing behind him as he happily ran from car to car as if asking to bum a ride. He stopped his truck and caught the dog. Not far away a man was walking on the road, carrying a toddler girl in his arms. The dog was his. As TBW walked the dog to his owner, he noticed the dog was straining against the leash trying to avoid the man. Once the man retrieved the dog he began, in a fury of frustration, to hit the dog. My husband quickly got into his truck and followed the man and his dog so that he could call the police. He turned up a street and found them again. The little girl was standing beside the road and the man was punching the dog, who was laying in the road. TBW rolled down his window and yelled out for the man to stop. The thing about The Bearded Wonder is that he is a large man with a large red beard and broad shoulders. He is imposing. But if you know him at all then you also know that he is also about as aggressive as a butterfly. But in this rare moment, he was furious and ready to do something out of character. The man stopped hitting his dog and looked alarmed at TBW, as if startled back into reality. His eyes immediately began to fill with tears when he was what he was doing. “You can’t be hurting your dog like that!” The man looks so sad, so apologetic and so very broken that TBW changed his tone a bit. “You see that little girl there?” he said indicating the man’s small daughter. “She is seeing every thing you are doing.” The man looked back at his daughter, his eyes pooling with tears. He picks her up in his arms and then picks the dog up like a second little child. “I’m so sorry,” he began, “I’m out of work because of the coronavirus and my wife is working from home. I’m a stay at home dad for the first time and I am so overwhelmed. I have no idea what I’m doing.” The man was still holding his little girl and the dog like precious cargo and looking very much like a person who has been stretched to the bring of tearing. “I have five kids at home,” The Bearded Wonder ventured, “and I have to figure out how to support them while our business takes a huge hit because of this virus. I understand how hard it is right now. But you can’t be doing stuff like that. Your little girl is looking to you right now. She’s watching your every move.” The broken man knew that. He was ashamed and embarrassed. He walked away with a little girl in one arm and a dog in the other. He returned to his uncertain home full of anxious dread and no idea how their family was going to make it through all of this. Think what you will, but The Bearded Wonder didn’t call the police that day. He could see the agony of guilt and abject brokenness in the man.
Here is an overused and yet profoundly true quote,
In a time where we can chose to take every last scrap of toilet paper or hang our head out of our terrace window to sing to our neighbors, let’s be the singing kind. I know of a family who arranged a birthday parade of cars decked out with balloons and banners to celebrate two little twins who couldn’t have friends over because of the virus. Isn’t that something? That wouldn’t have happened were it not for this pandemic. Lovely things are happening in spite of the dreadful things. Beauty is being stirred. God is using his gentle hands to stir up the ashes till they take flight into the air and begin to become something new. In His own dear and wonderful way, he takes those signs of what has been burnt and charred and turns the ashes into beauty. Instead of feeling stifled by the amazing weight that is hanging over so many of us, let’s remember the beautiful things. And let’s remember to be kind.
I hope you all chose to do something beautiful today. Like my favorite children’s book, Miss Rumphius, says,
“But there is a thing that you must do. You must make the world more beautiful.”Barbara Cooney
One more quote:
What rather lovely thing are you going to do today? Share with me on instagram @ymamarquis or #fromtheravens.