Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
We had packed up the house and were headed three hours away to the airport. The day before my husband had found a one-of-a-kind bakery on the Oregon coast, he bought us both a lemon creme danish. The homemade kind.
He had eaten his for breakfast, smacking his lips, dusting powdered sugar on his beard. I packed mine up, moving it from the table to the counter, to our bags guarding it from the bustle of the families packing up to leave.
As we drove down the 101, I could imagine the delicate pastry, edges folded around the tart lemon curd, nestled into a crimped paper, carefully perched on top of …
Wait a minute.
I craned back, disregarding the seat belt cutting into my ribs and began moving things around in the back seat. The bag, the white paper bag with the blue bakery name was not there.
Suddenly my heart’s balloon popped. I had left it on the counter. I told my husband.
“The lemon-y thing you bought me, the pastry, it’s gone! I left it at the house.” His eyes telegraphed disappointment.
Oh dang. My mouth began to feel parched and bland and hungry. Dwight Shrute must have felt like this when Jim Halpert refused to give him an Altoid.
I turned to the backseat again to grab the grocery bag filled with un-lemony snacks. I slowly untied it not noticing the white bag with blue letters sitting high and mighty on the top.
When I look down, I yelled, “I FOUND IT!”
My eyes shining, I carefully opened the folded top and saw all my heart’s desire.
It was hard to eat it as slowly as it deserved.
Hope desired and fulfilled. In retrospect, I’m amazed at how much power it gave me, energy, excitement, worry, delight. These are emotions that move us quickly and happily forward.
This morning I woke without these feelings. Hopeless? That word is quite strong, but I felt the lack of sparkle and zip.
As Marilyn Chandler McIntyre writes in her poem Early February, there was “Nothing to rise to.” I think of the popular book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp that beckons readers to make a list of one thousand things to be grateful for.
But I’m not hopeful about that idea. There are plenty of grating, first world problems to make me annoyed.
A pot lies in the sink holding mucky water, soaking the hashbrown’s oil off.
In the cool morning, my feet and legs are cold.
I just started a batch of bread but used the wrong recipe and now what to do with this mess of flour? I hate wasting food.
My husband came waltzing down the steps freshly cleaned and keeps interrupting my attempts to recalculate the flour amounts.
And my son is so insanely happy.
And I am not.
What is there to rise to?
Oh, there is plenty, but I don’t want any of it. I want to keep my angry eyes on.
My husband wisely takes my son to the park.
I finish and clean up the makings of the bread recipe. I open a package and feel disappointed that I’m not excited by what’s inside.
Just more to organize and store and clean, I think.
Every misplaced item and dirty spot in the house whines for me to notice and fix, fix, fix. Instead I go upstairs and put on long wool socks and slippers.
I come downstairs and scoop out some yogurt, sprinkle it with wheat germ and dried blueberries and head outside.
I read a book about a woman raised in China who brought water to the protestors in Tiannaman Square. She is a bit more spunky than me this morning. But I’m moved to notice.
I feel the sun warm my back and I finish my yogurt.
I realize I was hungry. I just didn’t know it.
Back inside the bread has risen and my spirits with it. I punch it down and imagine my family who will return and eat it with me.
I reach into the small areas of creativity in me and blow on the spark.
And I think of Emily Dickinson’s poem Hope.
“Never did it ask a crumb of me.”