Joy and Grief


Sound the flute!

Now it’s mute!

Birds delight,

Day and night,


In the dale,

Lark in sky,—


Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year…

From Songs of Innocence by William Blake


In the northern hemisphere, spring is almost here. Nature is signaling to us that it is time to emerge from the darkness of winter into new beginnings. In my neighborhood the native plants have been flowering for over a month. Pollinators are knee-deep in blossoms, pine trees are raining pollen, birds are collecting twigs for their nests, and seedlings are responding to the longer days, reaching into shapes that hint at their future expressions.

But there are other things happening. The current state of the world includes, among other things, a humanitarian and ecological crisis that has many in a state of despair. I want to let you know that my heart is holding both – the joy of spring with the grief of co-emergent crises – and yours can too.

The act of holding joy and grief at the same time, without discounting one or ignoring the other, reminds me of the work of poet and visual artist William Blake. In 1789, Blake published