It’s been another bad news week. It sure feels like a bad news world sometimes, doesn’t it?
When we hear about senseless violence, it’s hard to feel safe. Here is the passage that popped into my head this morning, from the third book of Mark Helprin’s beautiful Swan Lake trilogy. (Pro Tip: Read them immediately.)
“And when will we be safe?” the queen asked.
“Only when he stops bleeding or is left behind.”
“We don’t leave our wounded behind,” the queen said, “even if they are heroes who beg for it.”
“Even if it may lead to the death of your child?”
The queen lifted her head almost like an animal catching a scent, and she said, “Yes, even if it may lead to that.”
“It means that we must ride slowly,” the captain told her, eyes cast down, “while our pursuers ride fast.”
These were hardly easy times for the queen, but she only grew in her graces. “You have observed deer, Captain, have you not? You have even hunted them?”
“So have I observed them. They are born to be hunted and pursued, and they are born defenseless. I watched in the forest when I was a girl, and then, later, after I had become queen, and my nobles hunted them. All they can do is run, and they do, but many of them are taken. How is it, do you suppose, that they can live, knowing this, knowing that at any time their children can be cut down, or they themselves, leaving children alone in the world? How is it, Captain, that, knowing this, they can live?
“I don’t know, Majesty. I only hunted them. I did not put myself in their place.”
“Now you are in their place.”
“And now you must do as they do.”
“Be nervous, Majesty?”
She laughed. “No, not nervous, but alert. And grateful. Let all sensation thunder in, stay with those you love, and trust in the time you have left.”
And then, knowing that our time was marked, we mounted and rode on, lifted by love and defiance, listening to all sound, galloping toward mountains and light.
–Mark Helprin, The Veil of Snows
Not nervous, but alert. And grateful. Let all sensation thunder in, stay with those you love, and trust in the time you have left.
This is good advice for living in a broken world. Today and every day, may we live like this: Alert and grateful. Loving and trusting. Feeling sadness, feeling hurt, feeling hope, feeling joy.
We feel all these things, and then, lifted by love and defiance, we ride on.
What sensations are thundering in for you today?