We’re home again, now reflecting backwards on our trip to see family and friends in Paraguay. One woman we met there, soon to celebrate her 65th birthday, said she finds herself “meditative” now. I like the word: of, involving, or absorbed in meditation or considered thought. Travel, reunions, aging — all can open us to this state.
I was caught by the following. When you spend two weeks steadily with people you haven’t seen for many years, you hear a great deal. Good stuff like what children and grandchildren are doing, and progress and satisfactions of various kinds, but tough stuff too, involving illness and death, difficult memories, ongoing challenges, fractured relationships.
“We don’t want to burden you,” one person said after a complicated tale involving the last on the list. I didn’t know how to say that they were the ones who were burdened, but that now we would carry it nevertheless.
During this time I happened to see, in someone’s Facebook status, Hugo Simberg’s beguiling painting, “The Wounded Angel,” and one night, sleeping poorly, a question flung itself around and around my head: “how much does an angel weigh?” There was no answer, just the question, repeating itself. I also found a feather, tiny and perfect, on the verandah, which I picked up as if dropped especially for me. I encountered “wings” (mine and God’s) in the Psalms.
These items aren’t a narrative. I’m setting them side by side because they remind me how much we’ve heard by the time we’re old and how, day by day, we’ve had to carry. How we have to keep learning to carry.