Stairs are beautiful. All sorts of stairs. I just really love stairs! And stairwells! (A stairwell is a wonderful place to sing – especially if they echo.)
And so I took this photo last July for the Beauty in Every Day Life 30 Day Challenge… Day 19 “Every day object.”
We had been working to clear these stairways on the Nakagawa River where we walk (every day, twice a day) when the weather is clement.
I love to sit on this stairway on a clear day watching the water run sparkling by…. And I love to sit there in the the dark with my husband beside me listening to the night sounds…
Ever since I was a child I have sat on stairs… and thought. Perhaps that’s the charm of A. A. Milne’s poem.
Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn't any
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
- A. A. Milne
In the poem halfway up and halfway down is a good place – a thinking place. But in my life right now… I feel a little… stuck. Not at the bottom, not at the top… thinking and thinking and not really getting free.
And so in the end, although I have thought up countless texts for that photo, I never wrote up any of them.
I never finished the 30 Day Challenge.
A few days ago I wrote “So much water under the bridge since this photo was taken a little over a year and a half ago... and that water floated us out of darkness into a very good place. I thank God for His great deliverance. "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, bless His holy name - and forget not all His benefits!" Psalm 103”
And it is absolutely true!
And yet, and yet… what I wrote to a friend a few weeks ago is also true. “… most of the time I feel safe and useful and alive again. But I still have moments when I wonder if I will ever recover from those 2 years of limbo and …”
Last summer was hard. Really hard. We had to vacation (3 weeks!) with a few of the people implicated by that “and” - I’m afraid it almost put me back at the imprecatory psalm stage!
Fortunately, autumn and my commencement to Hirosaki University Graduate School in October – as a fulltime student this time around – seemed to restore my equilibrium and on the whole I have been pretty happy.
But things have come up during the Christmas vacation that brought back memories of that awful feeling of being the caged dog…
This is not a good feeling. It is also not my present reality! But sometimes its hard to escape the shadows.
When we were casting about for this year’s motto I was drawn to Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and the idea of counting – naming - blessings.)
But in the end we chose words from Fra Giovanni’s letter “Take Joy” written Christmas Eve, 1513. Perhaps it was those words “The gloom of the world is but a shadow.”
And to see, we have only to look.
I beseech you to look!
This year we will go on looking for the joy “within our reach.”
And yes, we will TAKE JOY!