It is raining, and I feel like weeping.
The much beloved plants that were once so hopeful and vibrant, reaching each morning for the sun and drinking deep of Platte River soil and rainwater, are languishing. Their green tendrils are curling up into brown memories of what once was. Some lettuces are still peeking out, daring me to pick them. How hot might I be? How spicy? How bitter?
The bitterness of the transition. The fall. Fall. A fall from grace? Was it precipitated by a stumble? Did summer trip on its own ambition? Did it get clotheslined by blind enthusiasm? Or is it simply the natural progression? How way leads on to way?
So we weep. We weep for what could have been. What might not ever be. Sometimes we weep for what might still be, but we are afraid to find out. Dreams are funny like that. We hold them softly in the palm of a hand. We cherish them. We whisper them to our trusted ones and pass notes beneath the table. We live in fear that we might not live up to our own hopes and dreams. If you don’t cultivate the seed, you never have to worry about whether it will flourish.
It took me several years to plant that garden. I never trusted my own ability to grow living things. So I put it off and just talked about how someday I would.
The tears dampen the rocks in the river of the Zen garden so they shine like small rivulets of liquid mercury. Even the dry river is weeping tonight.
And so we huddle. We hope. We pause and think about the bottom of the bowl – when it is not overflowing. When all that remains are a few lonely drips. We remind ourselves that for fat times there are lean times, and for every rich moment there is an instant that has been stripped bare. The pendulum of our existence, which Kahlil Gibran so aptly explains as thus:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
And so in these times of fall, we descend into the basement. We dust off our very best bottle of big, bold cabernet sauvignon. The one we’ve been saving for something. Because tonight is that something. Tonight we venture out in the rain to collect ingredients for the thing we think might assuage the bruises from the fall.
Mascarpone. Cheddar. Parmesan. Shells. Whole milk. The antidote for the weeping: homemade macaroni and cheese. Made with butter.
We stay in on a Friday night. Together. To watch the sky weep. To lament our languishing crops, which are, in nature’s appropriate and compulsory course, relinquishing themselves, surrendering to the changing seasons. And we too, resign ourselves. To the impermanence of a full cup. To the uncertainty of tomorrow. We reach for each other. We reach for our mac & cheese and cabernet sauvignon. With tender fingertips we feel the grooves, left by the knives, in the hollows. We ponder the burnt deliciousness of the potter’s cup. We take shelter in the depth of an embrace, and await the unmasking.
The taking and leaving. The joy and sorrow. The emptiness and fullness. The falling and getting back up. The always getting back up.
The Zen of macaroni and cheese. On a weeping sort of day. On a day like today.