Saturday, September 12, 2015

Spring of Grief, Spring of Joy

Mom and dad with Becky and me at my college graduation
in May 1981. Becky and I would marry five days later.
I shared this Wendell Berry poem, one of his many compelling Sabbaths pieces, at the graveside as we buried my dad's ashes today at South Mound Cemetery in New Castle, Indiana.

Among our extended family cluster was my mom, 78, her sister Myra, and one of dad's sisters, Elaine--those who are seeing more and more of their generation pass from this life. There, also, was our oldest daughter, Abby, 14 weeks pregnant with the first of the next generation.

Berry's poem speaks of both: the old experiencing increasing absence of loved ones and the young witnessing that "many are still to come."

Reflecting on this range of simultaneous experience, I resonate with his phrase: "the spring of grief also is the spring of joy."

In Memory: James Baker Hall

The old know well the world
is a place of the absence of many
known, loved, and gone,
as the mind might contain a sky
empty of birds, an earth
without landmark trees.
The young, the husbands and wives,
must learn and the old recall
that all the absent are not gone.
Many are still to come.
The spring of grief also is
the spring of joy. The cup
is dipped and drunk, and the space
of its taking again is filled.

Wendell Berry in This Day, Collected & New Sabbath Poems, 1979-2013, Counterpoint, 2013

John Franklin Hay
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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