Winter 2010 #11.
It was more than a little awkward when the rehab engineer who is working on B4 pulled into our driveway unannounced with a new cushion to trial. Awkward because B4 has just returned from several days of modifications in his workshop; and awkward because it was Saturday morning and I had started tinkering a couple of hours earlier. By the time he arrived there were B4 bits all over the garage floor, with little to immediately recognize as a power wheel chair. The look on his face! The look on mine!
With barely two weeks of winter left, it’s quite impossible to ignore the urge to modify and create and put a new touch on things. Spring is in the air! How can we be still? Like the wind up clocks we had as children, B4 was begging to be ‘opened up’ and understood; and I just reckoned I could also make a few enhancements on the way. Later the same day a good mate came by to help me put the finishing touches to a ramp to our back door that’s been little more than a dream for a few months. Our son was here too, and thankfully the three of us were enough to put humpty together again! B4 is better than ever and finally very close to a comfortable fit. I do love a day when jobs get done. There is an infectious promise of warmth coming back into the world, and it seems to me that everything – even B4 – responds to the invitation of hope.
There are certainly glass-half- full and glass-half-empty people; but that doesn’t seem to me to be the point. Some ancient sage is credited with the helpful advice that one should start each day by eating a live toad as an insurance against disappointment. It’s the philosophy of pessimism, but I think it is a contrived way of dealing with life. The world itself, despite being so evidently subject to decay and failure, is a place suffused with hope. It is deeply woven into the fabric of life, the flow of the seasons, the myths and legends of man old and new, and it is hidden deeply in the human heart. The presence of the Creator energises all there is.
Both my favourite poets both embrace the theme, in rather different veins:
Spring is sprung, the grass is riz
I wonder where the birdies is?
They say the birdie’s on the wing
But that to me’s a silly thing.
The wing is on the birdie. See?
(Attributed to Spike Milligan, and quoted only as I remember it)
And perhaps more significantly…
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring —
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. — Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
(Gerard Manly Hopkins)
The great enemy of my hope is only my noise, especially the racket of doubt and fear. Just as Spring inevitably comes, so also comes the spring of inspiration, creativity and hope; and I am convinced our main task is to patiently wait its appearance.
Across from the workshop where B4 stands in re-modelled glory, gangly infant kangaroos are unfolding from pouches where they barely fit to bound around their mothers in crazy, expanding and exceedingly fast circles. They bang about on the green slopes with tangible delight in the discovery that they bounce. As an Old Testament character declared (in a rather different setting) “The shout of the King is among them”.
And among us.