[Journal entry, Aug. 17, 2015]
Some days it’s apparent that there’s a ribbon of continuity and harmony that winds through my life, the way a subtle melody runs through each movement of a symphony and ties them together. That ribbon may be invisible most days, but it unites each movement, each episode of life, rising to the surface when it’s needed to remind me that there is meaning to life’s music.
This morning I shared on Facebook a sweet news story out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin that featured a man who’d planted a four-mile long band of sunflowers along the rural roadside near his farm, in honor of the dear wife he’d lost to cancer last November.
Though I didn’t think of this consciously, after I got to work I posted a status update that included one of my favorite quotes of affirmation, from poet Walt Whitman: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and your shadows fall behind you.” My one and only tattoo – a 50th-birthday gift to myself that acknowledges my lifelong fight with clinical depression and my struggles to stay positive in a world that bewilders me – was inspired by this quotation: it’s a sunflower face, with the words “Face the Light.”
After I left work this afternoon, I made the trip to my vet clinic to bring home the ashes of my sweet old dog Jesse. I took the perimeter road around the west edge of the university campus. In the student organic field gardens by the lake, right there along Perimeter Road, a big field of yellow sunflowers blooms, turning their faces toward the light. Until today I didn’t know they were there.
There it is – that thread, that ribbon, that melody that repeats itself. uniting fragments into a whole. This is the road of life, and J.R.R. Tolkien captured it thus:
“The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”