On the Other Side of Night

I'm scrolling through my laptop Photos, searching for the cadence of this past year, for the story these images tell. It's what I do at Thanksgiving - reflect on the year's gifts, its losses. Normally, I would collect the faces of those who have shaped my year and form a collage of them; a cornucopia of friends and collaborators, artisans, children, colleagues, all.  But this year, strangely, there are no faces in my photographs. There has been no travel to visit artisans, no events, no parties, no vacations, no family holidays. No faces at all. 

This year, the story is not about what I did, where I went, whom I met - but about what happened to all of us.  It's about the enormous cloud that settled over the entirety of the world and stayed. About random illness and sudden closures and isolation and fear.  About the outrage of racism. About the anxiety of a divided country.  About storms so many the alphabet couldn't name them all, and fires so fierce, communities couldn't contain them.  There are hardly words for it, this year we didn't see coming.

It's funny, but what I find in my photographs this year are  . . .  sunsets. During our quarantine, my husband and I took daily walks at dusk.  When we were NOT going to parties and talks and airports and friends, we were quietly walking along a country road, the same road each night, watching spring dissolve into summer into fall.  We were watching the sun pulse north along  the horizon - stand still - and putter south again.  We were listening to the bard owl sing, the roar of crickets, deer plunging through the woods.  We were still as never before. And this is what we saw. 

Daily, in the midst of anxious covid reports, businesses failing, icons dying, retail withering, protests exploding, candidates jousting   . . .  the sun set.  Beauty slipped in.  

This is what I will remember about this year:  the setting of the sun. The vanishing of light and life as we have known it.  The long night that has followed. The strange unknown that envelops us. 

I want to believe that if we can stay true to the night, however tired of it we are; if we can learn to see beauty in-between bad news; if we can cultivate simplicity and lean into hope, if we can learn to love blind . . . . then, surely, surely on the other side of this, the sun will again rise.  

With unflagging gratitude to each of you, allies and advocates, artisans and ambassadors, and my tireless, brilliant team - to all of you who have kept Ibu strong in the dark times ~
I give you my deepest thanks, my highest hopes for our way forward,

Susan Hull Walker