In Geraldine Brooks’ novel Year of Wonders we are placed in a small village in the English Peak District in the year 1666 as the Great Plague sweeps through England causing untold sorrow and grief. The story begins with the main character, Anna, describing her village “We live all aslant here, on this steep flank of the great White Peak. We are always tilting forward to toil uphill or bracing backward on our heels to slow a swift descent. Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to live in a place where the land did not angle so, and people could walk upright with their eye on a straight horizon.”
This is certainly how our life feels today as we continue to toil uphill, and brace backward for fear of a swift descent, amidst what seems a never ending pandemic. Our days are now full of hurrying uphill and down in search of vaccine! Life is certainly all aslant and out of kilter. How long, how long, we cry and pray.
I am reminded of William Wordsworth’s sonnet The World is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending we lay waste our powers:….For this, for everything, we are out of tune. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45564/the-world-is-too-much-with-us
Perhaps his hope and that of Anna and of ourselves is that we could once again find balance, hope and love. Life certainly seems out of tune, discord has displaced harmony. The noise we make to make our point has robbed us from hearing other voices, robbed us from singing new songs. Alas, we have work to do and music to make.
amidst our fear and our foreboding
instill in our soul a new sound.
amidst our struggle under the sun,
and our struggle through the long night,
sing to us a new song, one we all can sing.
hear our prayer not of words,
by the beat of our heart.