Saturday morning. Blue jay screaming in the crape myrtle tree. Another nearby screams in reply. Noisy obnoxious birds. Same damn thing over and over. Lance has finished licking his feet and now contemplates the pink drifting flowers as the wind brings them down from the branches. He stands up and coughs through the screen at a passing Yorkie. Lance doesn’t have the energy for a full-throated objection this morning, but each passing dog must be observed and duly noted. Because . . . that’s how it works on this porch.
There is a change in the air. I don’t know what yet, if it is an inner or outer change, yet a palpable shift in the weather hangs overhead without obvious signifiers. The sun is shining, but the wind smells like a storm.
Emily is exhausted today. Her mood reflects mine.
#1010, c. 1865
Up Life’s Hill with my little Bundle
If I prove it steep —
If a Discouragement withhold me —
If my newest step
Older feel than the Hope that prompted —
Spotless be from blame
Heart that proposed as Heart that accepted
Homelessness, for Home —
Here is the plain that opens from intense struggle, before her agile mind has had a chance to make sense of what happened. The blasted space, empty of hope or distrustful of hope, that characterizes the struggle. Before she can integrate it or find a context she has to own the hopelessness. Interesting, the word factory between her ears never rests. So she has to write about it. But what can one write about such an experience? Here she writes about a place of not knowing. Of pure experience. Trouble and the Heart’s response. In this space of discouragement, the heart that lacks common sense can hardly be blamed for believing only what stands before it. All hearts lack common sense. This is the definition of the heart’s function. Common sense exists northward of the heart. Don’t expect common sense from the heart.
The heart is a child who only knows this immediate moment, whether joy or despair. Whether safety or homelessness. This heart in concert with the struggling body that encloses it will make real and eternal (for the moment, for all eternity lies in a moment by the Heart’s calendar) what may appear to the common sensical adult mind as just another problem to be solved.
Emily’s compassion for her own believing heart is so moving. She possesses a tender understanding of her own willingness to accept the truth as her heart knows it, as a legitimate truth, even though she is big enough to see all sides of the trouble. She honors that childlike belief in her heart’s own story. Though the story may be despair, Emily will not dismiss the integrity of her heart’s announcement of itself. That would be disloyal and ultimately false. A denial of the heart’s story, however childlike, is a lie.
It’s all story, and it’s all true. The story may change with the weather. Still it’s a true story.