There’s something about the middle of the night that can really rile up my thoughts.
It’s 3 a.m. My mind is working overtime. I can’t fall back to sleep.
When this happens, I’ll often grab my pillow, then go and sprawl out on the living room couch to see if a new location will help. When that doesn’t work, I come here to my little wooden desk, turn on the white lamp, and write.
Typically, I love this time of year. In a few weeks, I’ll be taking cranberry colored walks and family drives on tree-lined roads. Sampling apples and local honey. Wearing slippers and flannels. Smelling tailgate chili in the crock-pot.
But on this shadowy night, I’m feeling more gravity than release.
There are of course the usual worries weighing on my heart about my children, spouse, parents, extended family, and all that I have to get done. But tonight in the mix, more than ever before, is a mass of uncertainty for our country and the world.
White supremacists and neo-Nazi groups are slinking out of wormholes.
Firefighters are battling out-of-control wildfires.
Hurricanes are turning neighborhoods into raging rivers. Sweeping away homes. Flooding hospitals and schools. Leaving nursing home residents stranded in wheelchairs with murky waters up to their waist. Pulling loved ones below the swelling depths.
Countless images and viral videos of racial rants, police beatings, panicked victims, terrorist drivers plowing into crowds are scrolling daily across monitors and screens.
Self-obsessed world “leaders” with little to no empathy or remorse are smiling, waving, and shaking hands.
North Korea under the control of a ruthless 33-year-old dictator is stating that its latest test of nuclear weaponry—reported to be many times more powerful than an atomic bomb—was “a perfect success.”
And now with the recent end of an American immigration policy, hundreds of thousands of young adults who came to our country as children are no doubt having difficulty falling back to sleep right now, too—the possibility of deportation and getting torn from their families looming.
While I sit here before dawn in the comfort of home with my weighted thoughts, wishing for the sun, it feels as though something more than leaves is about to fall.
In these sleepless hours, I lose perspective and can’t help but wonder, is the whole darn Earth about to fall, too?
The clock tick tocks, and finally the first sign of morning emerges.
The sunrise slowly wells up. Its soft pink-golden gleam pours through the trees. I sense a slight lift in my chest. As if the light is calling me out of the fear and toward the countless reminders of prevailing goodness in the midst:
• Volunteers with trucks of food, water, blankets and clothes collected by churches, synagogues, mosques, and other community groups.
• Neighbors coming together to remove and paint over hate-spewing messages that had been sprayed on a family’s car and home.
• A 20-year-old guy named Fraser giving elderly care home residents open trailer rides behind his bike so they can once again feel the free wind in their hair.
• A woman named Lisa stopping in the aisle of a grocery store to ask an elderly man in a motorized cart with tears welling in his eyes what she can do to help.
• Two teenage coffee shop employees stopping to pray with a woman who’d told them she’d lost her husband the day before.
• A waiter sitting down at one of his tables to help feed a customer without hands.
• A surveillance video showing a police officer giving a homeless man a pair of shoes, socks, and a bedroll.
• A stadium of 70,000 football fans turning to wave to sick kids at the children’s hospital across the street.
As I pour a cup of coffee, I hear my kids stirring upstairs, alarms clocks beeping, bathroom doors locking. What will their futures hold?
Before turning on the morning news, today I lean against a window and look out first. I’m in awe of the power of a fully opened blue sky and bright sun. Together, they lift the gravity of a long night and hopes for a more peaceful, kind-hearted, and protected earth.
I’m Julie Jo Severson, mom to two teens and a tween, freelance writer, editor, and co-author of HERE IN THE MIDDLE: Stories of Love, Loss, and Connection from the Ones Sandwiched in Between.
This blog, Carvings on a Desk, is where I reconnect with my own voice swirling around in the middle.
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