The Worst of Years
Too long ago, back when we were hopeful teenagers, aspiring adolescents with the great world and the beckoning future before us all, and longed-for love in our hearts, a song came on the radio, one of impassioned reminisce, of missed regret, of measured pleasure, even past hope.
The popular tune wasn’t my style and the theme wasn’t Christ-like, but its haunting melody and a few lines did stick with many of us.
“When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls…”*
Yes, I remember a few of my first dates, and a rural Nebraska girl:-).
Anyway the song’s chorus then says, “It was a very good year”
and the final lines end with “But now the days grow short in the autumn of the year…”
Not much like my life at all—not in its worldview, ethics, or ending.
But all in reverse…
This last year has been “It was a very sadistic year…” or “It was a very worst of years.”
Sometimes for most humans a year hurricanes in like that—a real lethal tsunami/tornado
or other natural disaster, a devastating death or grievous disease, a broken relationship,
lost communion, a descent into hades, tragic times where one reaches so low,
plummets to such an abyss, that an individual wishes he had never been born.*
George Fox experienced such a deep despair at one point of time in his life—called it the “ocean of darkness.”
We all (at least most of us, except the relentlessly ‘sunshine’ few) eventually face what Ecclesiastes says,
“…before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,
4 and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— 5 they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man
is going to his eternal home,
and the mourners go about the streets— 6 before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8 ‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Everything is meaningless!’"
Not the most hopeful meditation is this during the Christmas season, is it?
No Yuletide cheer, that’s for sure.
But then the original Christmas was no summer picnic: A king slaughtering innocent infants, a baby being born
in an animal trough, living in an occupied country under ruthless soldiers, living below the poverty line…
Before we can consider any Good News, we do need to face the darkness of the ocean of existence.
Any thoughts on all that is wrong, tragic, senseless, meaningless, and damnable about this life?
Now that life’s been stated in all of its negativity, here is a poem on Jesus’ birth,
the hope in which many of us live to counter the overwhelming ocean of darkness:
So awe fulled the birthing
of God's presence, new cauled
in humble manger's destiny,
The base and apex of
a starred cave's presents
of all future festivals
Yet abandoned, forsaken to
the crowned world's nails,
every man's cursedness;
Farthest reach of faith
this Apocalypso dancer
crosses the Cosmos,
Morning us night-less;
he compassions Earth
ever peopling Heaven,
Emptying the pitiless bottom
into ever's Now
Beloved one, Isa, Eashoa, Jesus
child of the masses
point man for us all.
First published in The Green Silk Journal,
also in the book collections Psalms, Yawps, and Howls,
and selah river
*The American novelist John Steinbeck wrote he wished during all of his life that he “had never been born”!
Yes, really, he speaks of this in one of his writing notebooks.
When I first read his statement, at the age of about 47, I was flabbergasted. It’s true, by that time I had had some very bad tragic years, but I never ever wished I hadn’t ever been born. Later as I aged and went through the loss of all hope, I did at times “wish I had never been born.”
Very devastating hopeless outlook.
Thank God, for the hopefulness of some thinkers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Howard Zinn.
*"It Was a Very Good Year" lyrics by songwriter Ervin Drake
In the Light,