Goodbye to Summer
In May the letters sat there, enervated and mute, awaiting our attention. We scooped them, gathered them up one by one, like bouquets of perfect dahlias, arranging them carefully into the seasonal words we’ve loved for so long, words all the more evocative for the brevity they conveyed. Honeysuckle. Jasmine. Watermelon. Seaside.
They are the words reserved for summer, and we anticipate the delight they bring us each year.
This summer, however, other hands were rummaging in the mountains of letters, seizing them in angry fistfuls, creating dark words that threatened to blot out the ones that we love. Hateful words such as Ebola and ISIS. Ferguson. War. These rang in our ears with a leaden tone, bringing sorrow and fear with each reverberation.
In the past several weeks, I have stood at the edge of my country with my toes in the sand, looking far out to the Atlantic from the shores of both our northernmost east coast state and our southernmost. On a white-washed afternoon in Maine, I stood on a shoreline dotted with lilac-coloured oyster shells and azure sea glass staring out past the ivory sails of tall schooners to the horizon beyond, knowing that, if only my eyes were magically stronger, I could watch as these same waters lapped up on the coastlines of France. The same feeling came to me on the evening I walked along an empty Florida island beach as a setting sun turned the sky into a prismatic spectacle that was an utter privilege to behold. As a salty wind whipped round me, I stopped to consider the darkening line betwixt sea and sky and wondered about the African eyes possibly staring back at me from across those very same seas.
It is clearer that ever to me that the world, once thought of as so vast and unknowable, is now so small and vitally interconnected. Living in the city to which the two American Ebola victims were brought, and successfully treated, only served to illustrate how intertwined we all are. Years ago, news of the horrors occurring in countries oceans away came to us weeks after the fact, if at all. These days we know of them as they are happening. The modern globe is a tiny one; we must accept.
September First has always seemed much more like New Year’s Day to me than the January one that bears the title. So today I am waving goodbye to this summer that was with the hope that, as I gather up fresh new letters to fashion the words for the season I love most - words such as Mittens and Firesides, Jack-o-Lanterns and Snow - I will find letters enough to spell out words for a new year's fresh start; words more eternal, more redemptive; words that remain unquestionable and true.
Justice and Peace.
Take a deep breath.
A new season beckons us all.