In this dark I rest,
unready for the light which dawns
day after day,
eager to be shared.
Black silk, shelter me.
more of the night before I open
eyes and heart
to illumination. I must still
grow in the dark like a root
not ready, not ready at all.
-Eye Mask by Denise Levertov from A Book of Luminous Things
There are two kinds of weeds–one grows a root that shoots straight down and are easy to pluck and don’t grow back. The second kind of weed grows a root system that connects to all the other roots, a whole underground world of support, so that when it is pulled at the surface, it grows back.
Levertov’s poem about waiting in the dark, like a root doing its unseen work, reminds me that the roots that we grow matter. What is growing beneath the surface of our lives, beneath the activity, accomplishments and performance matters. The roots of any plant give it a steady and firm foundation against wind, drought, animals and other adversity.
No one was ready to face this adversity. No one was ready for the financial and social upheaval. We are never ready to test the roots we’ve grown, to see if the unseen connections and strength we have grown will weather the adversity that lays before us.
Today I am saying a prayer of gratitude for the roots that ground me and I am reflecting on the ways that I might strengthen them for the future.
To Find a Steady Center is a daily poem and meditation to offer a short, good word to those who are anxious, fearful or lonely and who might need a gentle word of hope, encouragement or perspective during social distancing.