tenebrae – Latin for ‘darkness’ or ‘shadows’
I have been missing in action on my blog for a while. Here’s why. The past five months have been tough on our Blue Mountains community. Over the summer we confronted the most extensive bushfires in our memory. Before we could even imagine how to recover from those, the coronavirus pandemic dealt its bewildering blows. With each event we have had to hang on to daily news briefings to figure out what decisions needed to made next. I lost count of the number of times either event has been described as ‘unprecedented’.
The consequences of each event are far reaching and the fact that they happened back-to-back for the Blue Mountains has deepened the impact. We’re still reeling, as a community, but also individually. Like many others, I have been juggling family, home, work and study commitments in the midst of these extreme events. To be honest it has been challenging.
Call it writer’s block if you like but what I have learned about myself during this time is that when I am in ‘survival mode’ the Creative Writer part of me shuts down and hides in a bunker so deep and dark that I can’t find her. I feel so much disappointment and frustration about this.
Leading up to Easter I sensed she was finally, slowly emerging and I wrote this poem.
Tenebrae No more words Tear down lecterns Shut off screens Board up mouths Give up sighs platitudes consolations Hush them all Be still as comforts are snuffed out Silent as shadows shroud Let wicks go cold Enter the tomb within Be empty Wait ©Belle Perry 2020
When I was in high school I read The Plague by Albert Camus and memories of it resurfaced over the past few weeks. Coincidentally I discovered this brilliant article by writer and philosopher, Alain de Botton: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-camus-plague.html
Bushfires and coronavirus may leave us feeling fearful, overwhelmed and exhausted. It is warranted and to be expected. It is difficult to sit with such feelings and I suspect many of us are navigating them daily.
What I take from Camus’ novel is that in the face of the absurdity of suffering, kindness to one another is the best and only answer. As Alain de Botton explains more eloquently,
“Recognizing this absurdity should lead us not to despair but to a tragicomic redemption, a softening of the heart, a turning away from judgment and moralizing to joy and gratitude.”
Let’s continue to support each other with soft and grateful hearts through these ‘tenebrae’ times.