Morning Sun
  • TRUE STORIES: A gentle sadness

  • Bless your uneasiness as a sign there is still life in you. – Dag Hammarskjold

    I love spring in the Little Balkans, but it seems, each year, for a certain period of time, I find myself lost in a gentle sadness.

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  • Bless your uneasiness as a sign there is still life in you. – Dag Hammarskjold
    I love spring in the Little Balkans, but it seems, each year, for a certain period of time, I find myself lost in a gentle sadness.
    On Friday I listened to a CD by a female Buddhist monk, Pema Chodron, titled “Don’t Bite The Hook,” in which she talks about letting go of the addictive need to have certain outcomes in our lives, as I drove back and forth to work, to the nursing home to sing, to do mom’s shopping at Walmart, and drop a book off at the library.
    I also did lots of deep breathing — trying to embrace my unease and turn it over to my higher power. Thomas Merton, aka Father Louie, says that anxiety is inevitable in an age of crisis like ours … but God does not ask that we not feel anxious but to trust in him no matter how we feel. Easier said than done, Thomas.
    As I hadn’t been able to make it to my usual weekly visit to Sunset Manor for the past couple of Fridays, I was determined to get there this week. Good thing. It was the highlight of my day. Though it didn’t cure my melancholy, singing and joking with the residents and my sidekicks Alfred, Terrie, and Juanita, brought a soothing balm to my spirit.
    Terrie suggested the word “askew” would fit for the way I was feeling. Good call. Askew. The word’s even kind of fun to say:
    “Hi J.T. How are you today?”
    “Excuse me?”
    “Out-of-kilter, off center, awry, cockeyed … askew.”
    Alas, the frivolity at Sunset Manor soon wore off. The rest of the day was mostly a trudge.
    At my office desk, I read again a quote I’d recently discovered from Hugh Prather’s “Notes to Myself” — “Today never hands me the same thing twice and I believe that for most everyone else life is also a mixture of unsolved problems, ambiguous victories and vague defeats – with very few moments of clear peace. I never do seem to quite get on top of it. My struggle with today is worthwhile, but it is a struggle nonetheless and one I will never finish.”
    After supper, Linda and took a slow walk over to Lakeside Park, past green, green grass clumping wild in the yards; spring beauties, tulips, daffodils and jonquils waving 3-D in the sway of evening breeze; redbuds sprouting purple and lavender; forsythia and daffodils dazzling yellow; the sky streaking orange into blue with little white puffs of cloud air-brushed in gray as if dusted by smoke. The whole of it a beckoning watercolor wash of pure Kansas spring.
    Page 2 of 2 - At the lake, the pear trees were in full bloom in elliptical lines around two sides of the old pond. We stopped to sit inside the soft focus of it all (like being in a Monet painting) side by side on a bench near the water’s edge; children’s gay voices drifting in the scented air; 12-year-old boys fishing on the far bank; a young dog hurrying over to be petted, jump on us, and lick our faces; sparrows twittering in the gnarled catalpa behind us; a tiny silver jet scratching an iridescent line above our love, which rose at least a half mile into the sky.
    After ten minutes or so, we ambled around the water past a young family fishing: “Here’s a good place, dad. It’s calm here, dad!” Then walked on the alphabet A, B, C, D … all the way to Z … written in perfect block letters with multi-colored chalk on the concrete bank, ducks and geese quacking and honking hellos as we passed.
    At the far edge, we angled back toward home, over clumps of bottle-green grass and onto the bumpy, purple brick street, wondering, in the half-light of dusk, what was happening in the Victorian houses of our neighbors.
    Before going inside, we crossed the street to gently touch the earth where our much-loved black Lab, Andre, died more than a year ago.
    I looked west to see the sky going deep ash as we strolled up our front walk and around to the back of the house. “We’ll have to remember to do this more often,” Linda sighed, as we walked through the back door and she felt around for the kitchen light switch.
    J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and prevention and wellness coordinator at Pittsburg State University. He also operates Knoll Training, Consulting & Counseling Services in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net.

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