We get these amazing low tides now and then at this time of year. Negative tides. It’s fascinating to walk way out and stand where water usually is, to peer into pools, see hidden rocks revealed, curiosities uncovered. It feels like another planet.
And I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but it occurred to me that maybe we’re at a sort of low tide period in our nation’s history right now. What had been beneath the surface and is now exposed is ugly, not wondrous, but these things have been there all along, and it’s crucial that we face them.
Or maybe it’s more like the underpinnings of a house…it might appear that the place is being ripped apart, but some dismantling is necessary to eliminate the rot beneath the floorboards, the corrosion in the pipes, the toxic chemicals in the walls, all the flaws and weaknesses that are going to be corrected once and for all and would have been our downfall.
Yes, I realize this is simplistic, but I need to believe something like this, so I choose to see it as possible. This is an extremely disillusioning and discouraging time, and we are going to have to turn things around, and somehow…we will. Let us not lose heart.
Meanwhile, Thanksgiving is approaching. I feel humble and grateful for many reasons, every day, as well as alarmed and sad and baffled. And I think the following poem of thanks by W.S. Merwin powerfully expresses the irrational, contradictory, defiant, insistent sense of human gratitude felt even in the most troubled times. It’s like a song we have to sing…and besides, there are no times that are not troubled. The world is imperfect, messy, cruel, and unjust…full of mystery and tragedy, beautiful and terrible in every moment…but we persist in trying to make sense of it. We are here, bearing witness and doing our best, and we are saying thank you.
THANKS by W.S. Merwin
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you
with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is