There are people and voices I follow online that are intuitively sensitive, sending out reminders periodically that there may be people hurting, or that as we celebrate a new thing, we ought to give pause to those who may feel no cause for joy. I am deeply grateful for these people, like the gentle lights along the aisle on a plane, offering light—not so much as to illuminate all, but just enough that a person can make their way more confidently and safely.

Tomorrow is the first of December. We are moving toward the end of a year, maybe it’s the last month of the last year you’ll ever have had with a beloved, maybe it’s one month away from the first year of an entirely fresh, albeit challenging, start, maybe it marks the first holiday you’ll pass alone. Or maybe its just another month that involves a kind of sadness that won’t quit.

I’ve come to understand that I cannot fix any of it, can’t always say the right thing, or offer the perfect gesture, but I think that there is an energy that comes from just considering other people’s realities. From Ferguson to being fired, home schooling to heart searching, new jobs to fresh sobriety, just having a little corner of my mind and heart set aside to be gentle, to be the cushion, whether in person face-to-face or somewhere in conversation in defense of those who can’t speak for themselves.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but as the list day of NaBoPoMo passes, I am choosing to start the next month with a daily intention of compassion. I may even afford it for myself one day.

Here’s a poem from a man who gave us much beauty, despite a hurt in his own heart that came like a darkness with the reliability of the sun. Thank you, Mr. Frost, for giving us so many miles of beauty as we moved toward a tender sleep.


My November Guest

My sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.