Sunday Morning ~ Relief
Ladza dzinja ana anole mano. ~ The rainy season has come, children sharpen your teeth.
~ Chewa proverb
January 24, 2021
Tuesday morning I woke to a smoke detector chirping, as if the battery needed replacing. No big deal, I put it on my mental to-do list for the day and rolled over to doze. It wasn’t light yet and I had no where to go. I glanced at the window to gauge how long until sunrise and it appeared to be foggy outside. I was still in that hazy, half-asleep, dozy, dreamy space and pulled my quilts tighter around my neck and snuggled in. Before dozing off I thought, it’s Tuesday; we made it to Tuesday. One day more. The words of the Les Mis song circulated my brain. I had that anticipatory glee on the eve of something great. Only two mornings left to dread turning on the news.
The cat came into the room shortly afterward, and meowed. It was early for her, just after six. She usually waits until she hears me stirring, but maybe the smoke detector had disturbed her too. I got up. When I put my glasses on I could see it was not fog outside but condensation inside the windows. I thought that was odd and wondered if it got really warm out. Then was a little confused thinking, wait, it is warmth inside that makes condensation. Have I got that right? It was before tea. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I made my way to the stairs, trying not to trip over the cat as she wove between my legs, careful not to fall down the stairs on my way to the usual morning routine: a scoop of cat food, water for tea, the news. As I descended I was more certain the house was warmer than normal and then saw the entire kitchen filled with steam as if someone had taken a very hot shower in the middle of it. I opened the basement door and heard water rushing. Fuck. I got half way down the stairs and could see water shooting everywhere, the basement full of steam. Hot water? What the hell? It was dripping from the ceiling and there was an inch on the floor. Panic was an understatement. I was afraid to turn the furnace off thinking it might explode any minute and I was afraid to go near it. I ran upstairs to call the plumber, praying he would answer at 6:15. I got his answering service whose recording told me they were “experiencing an unusually large number of calls at that time and to please hold on.” Ugh! I texted him, and God bless his soul, he texted back right away, telling me to shut off the main water valve and shut off the furnace at the circuit breaker. So, without donning a raincoat, I went back into the fray. Mission accomplished, I ran back up and opened the kitchen faucets to relieve the pressure. The flooding stopped. Phew! I looked outside at the temperature and saw it was eighteen degrees. I made tea and waited for the plumber. I didn’t even want to look at the damage until I’d had tea. Just after seven the professional was here and I swore, if my plumber ever retired I would sell this house.
My anxious mind started wondering if this was auspicious omen? Would this be the start of a calamitous week? Repressing that thought, I drank my tea and was grateful I had been home when the circulating pump blew a hole. I shuddered to think what would have happened if I were away, or even asleep for awhile longer. It was fixed in less than two hours and I went on with my day of frivolous activity trying to ignore the soggy mess for awhile and pass the ensuing twenty-four hours willing the country to stay balanced on the cliff for just one more day. I cleaned, I sorted, I walked. My house dried out, my hopes for the country hovered.
Wednesday morning I paced, waiting for midday. I prayed for faith in those entrusted to protect us. I dressed in my very nicest loungewear and lucky earrings. At eleven I settled myself in my comfy chair with my knitting and tea and, grateful for live-streaming, started watching. As people arrived I felt calmer. Their poise and demeanor was comforting. I loved watching them be escorted to their seats, I loved their smiles and the confidence they emulated. I wondered what they were feeling. Were they worried? If they were, I didn’t sense it. They comforted me. I thought, this is what leadership looks like. For two weeks I’ve been terrified for them. I‘d wished they’d move the whole thing inside just so I could relax a little. I’d worried Biden would stumble over his words and Lady Gaga would look ridiculous singing the national anthem. Instead, she made me regard those lyrics in a new light. The song has always sounded to me like it glorified war. Wednesday, I heard it as a song of hope and strength. “The brave” in the song morphed from soldiers to every person sitting on that capitol stage. I thought, yes. This is what leadership looks like. I was so proud of them.
I sobbed through most of the ceremony. It was so much more than I was hoping for. The organizers were brilliant, the speakers transformative, and the model a beacon for me, and I hoped, the world. I was overwhelmed by how many friends from around the world sent their well wishes. I felt like we were all part of a grand achievement. At the final benediction I thought of the words of Mother Theresa: “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.” I am so relieved. I feel happy. We know the mess is there but we can let it dry out a bit then get to work cleaning up.
I saw the proverb and thought about what a relief the first rain was after the dry season in Congo and Malawi. Not only the physical relief as an end to the heat and humidity but relief as assurance that life would go on. I thought how important it was that people trusted it’s return. Believing the rain would come was as important as the rain itself.
Love to all,