Spring funk, idiot crocuses, and Godthreads

Recurring lines or thoughts in my Joybrain tend to take the form of those advertising banners that trail along behind propeller planes above the beach or concerts or outdoor festivals and sporting events. The planes fly back and forth in my mind’s eye, towing the banner that bears the thought that I can’t displace. For the past couple of days, the banner has read “Spring can hang you up the most.”

At the Winter Solstice, churches across various denominations increasingly offer “Blue Christmas” services to make some space and time for people who aren’t in sync with the jolly, cheery December holiday season. While I’m always grateful for the elbow room of a “Blue Christmas” service, Spring is when I’m aware of being in desperate need of something like that.

Crocus Idioticus

Spring is the time of year when I feel most out of step with the Season, with all the shiny happy people celebrating the lengthening daylight and the warmer weather. While I am one of those annoying, glass-half-full optimists, Spring is when I feel completely baffled by and sometimes cranky about the optimism of the first crocuses. On my way home from the bus stop last night, I realized the depth of my Spring funk when, upon seeing my first crocuses of the year, I thought (almost out loud), “Winter’s not REALLY over, you idiots.”

Luckily, I’m not left to my own devices. Community is a wonderful thing that way. Once a few years ago, GForce and I were driving in the car and the topic of God came up. She asked me what I thought God was. In that classic stalling tactic, I asked her what she thought. She said something like, “I think God is the thread that connects all of creation together.” “Even animals?” I asked. “I said ALL of creation, Mom. Of COURSE that includes animals!”

One of the Godthreads of my community that tugged me away from my Spring funk was getting caught up on the website of my long-time pals Martin & Heather. Last week, Heather reflected on Lent, and linked to a Wendell Berry essay called “Poetry and Marriage.” In the miracle that is the Internet, I read Heather’s lovely reflection, and in the blink of an eye, I was drinking thirstily from the oasis of Wendell Berry. In comparing marriage to poetic forms, Berry has all sorts of insights that I find particularly acute. I highly recommend the whole essay, and I’ve highlighted parts from two excerpts below that really pulled on me and my Spring funk:

“Because the condition of marriage is worldly and its meaning communal, no one party to it can be solely in charge. What you alone think it ought to be, it is not going to be. Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you—and marriage, time, life, history, and the world—will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way…

It may be, then, that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” – “Poetry and Marriage” an essay by Wendell Berry in Standing by Words

And speaking of singing: today’s Psalm/Psong is “I’m Just Pulling on a Line” by a band called Great Lake Swimmers. I first heard them a couple of months ago while listening to my channel for the band The Low Anthem on Pandora.

The line runs through like a train in a book
Or meters underwater, ending with a hook.
It sways in the air when there’s wind enough to lift
The fine ones are boundaries when there is a rift.

I’m just pulling on a line, on a line, oh I’m just pulling on a line.
I’m just pulling on a line, on a line, and sometimes it pulls on me.

The line, it inks across the freshly fallen snow
Where only those embracing coldness would go.
It whistles and it whispers, and sometimes it howls.
It sings to me sweetly from trees and in vowels.

I’m just pulling on a line, on a line, oh I’m just pulling on a line.
I’m just pulling on a line, on a line, and sometimes it pulls on me.

The line, it writes itself across the dark sky
In the electric flashes ending with a sigh.
It weaves itself into a fabric so true
and flows just like the river, graceful and blue.

I’m just pulling on a line, on a line, oh I’m just pulling on a line.
I’m just pulling on a line, on a line, and sometimes it pulls on me.

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5 responses to “Spring funk, idiot crocuses, and Godthreads

  1. I used to admonish the first spring flowers to go back while there was still time. I’ve come to realize that they know far better than I what to do and when. If a few of them succumb to later inclemency, I’m grateful for their early exuberance and optimism. A few weeks ago, while wandering down Comm Ave in the Back Bay, I spotted a border of snowdrops. I hooted a mighty hoot and did a little Snoopy dance, then noticed that the person behind me took several steps backwards to get away from this apparent loon of a certain age. Stop thinking about those crocuses as idiots and start thinking about them as fools for god or nature or what-have-you. What more could your parents have done than to have named you JOY!?!!?

    • Hey, if I were Joy-ful all the time, I’d be more annoying than the Emergency Broadcast Signal! That said, I like the fools-for-god/nature/what-have-you. Fools for What-have-you has a good ring to it. Perhaps I’ll have T-shirts made up. Want one?

  2. As my spouse once told a friend, “I don’t wear clothes that say things.” To which the friend replied, “I expect my clothing’s messages to be implicit.” I expect I know what my clothing says, and it’s not what he had in mind!

  3. “The mind that is not baffled is not employed.” I was not familiar with this essay until 2.76 minutes ago, so it is indeed heartening to discover that I have been fully employed for all of my sentient life (and I suspect sentience struck very early, probably in utero…)! And if impediment is a cause of song, then I am a freaking diva ;-)

    Love you and all the women in your family so much.
    J

  4. I have this same problem about spring, partly because I’m ornery about anything that feels like enforced emotion, partly because I actually really love winter and am not such a fan of summer, and partly because this time of year is always a mad panic of big expenses, lots of work, and not enough childcare. Also, although I’m new to the Low Anthem within the last couple of weeks, I’ve been a fan of GLS for some time. Some favorites: Your Rocky Spine, I am Part of a Large Family, and Moving Pictures, Silent Films.

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