March 20th, 2017 |
Monday, March 20th is dwindling away. It’s close to bedtime. I am at home on the third floor attempting to squeeze words from my computer. Perched on a table Judy and I refinished in Delaware some 20 years ago, one that hospitably held plates full of food, it has now become a space for wordsmithery.
The pitch-black silence that has replaced the companionship that once lived in this home hangs like a shroud over my solitude. Outside my window small puddles have formed on the school playground; they entertain quivering pockmarks as a gentle rain finds landing space. The raindrops tapping on my window keep a temperate beat, like friends who might want to keep me company.
Today, March 20th, is the first day of spring It’s been six weeks since Punxsutawney Phil, emerged from his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob, saw his shadow, and then beat a path back into the hole from which he came. This toothy woodchuck can come out now, on schedule, and get on with the business of chucking wood.
Last weekend I got a call from a friend in North Carolina. “I thought maybe you were dead, Jim Lewis. Where have you been? You haven’t written anything since Trump went to the White House?” Missing in action, perhaps, but I assured her, with a dab of dark humor, that in my daily perusal of the obituary page I had yet to find my name.
As for my writing, I have been doing plenty of writing, hours worth of writing since Donald Trump’s inauguration. But I have been stuck, stuck, stuck. My computer is like a neglected, overloaded closet begging to be tended to. Hunks of Trump-induced sporadic writings. Unsorted stuff. Bits and pieces. A patch here and a peck there. Spontaneous jottings and frail fragments. Wedges of reaction to the rapid-fire Trump tweets. Sketched clips of responses to media and print punditry. Distillations of numerous troubled conversations with friends.
All day long I have had March 20th on my mind. March madness? Yes, March madness. For you see, on March 20th 2003, the United States invaded Iraq.
As a Christian, even without a congregational connection, I have been keeping my very own Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, when a priest smudged my forehead with a finger-full of soot. In the trek toward Holy Week and Easter, I engage in my own daily prayer, spiced with Bible verses, sauced with robust readings that offer succulent reflective meditation.
In my reading I have been dabbling in writings by Margaret Drabble, one of England’s very fine writers. Reading her latest novel, The Dark Flood Rises, I’ve inadvertently stumbled onto an essay she wrote in May 2003, just after the invasion of Iraq. Entitled, “I Loathe America, and What It Has Done to the Rest of the World.” It begins:
I knew that the wave of anti-Americanism that would swell up after the Iraq war would make me feel ill. And it has. It has made me much, much more ill than I had expected.
My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world.
These long and dreadful years of war, the election of Donald Trump, and the honest acknowledgement of prophetic loathing witnessed to by Dame Drabble, has emboldened me to use what’s left of Lent to unburden my own soul about the nation I both loathe and love. Leading up to Easter, which falls on April 16, I intend to climb these three flights of stairs, before bed, address the table, and attempt to squeeze words from my computer, soulfully hoping for shared companionship in these troubled times, as the dark flood rises.
Entry Filed under: Fig Tree Notes Archives