|April is the cruelest month, breeding|
|Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing|
|Memory and desire, stirring|
|Dull roots with spring rain|
-T.S. Eliot, from The Waste Land (1922)
Eliot's "cruelest month" is also, as of 1996, Poetry Month. You have to live in a cold climate to know April as cruel. Those who live spring in Boston or Cleveland or Minneapolis or Eliot's England know how spring can invite you to open your heart and then, with a late winter slap, make you wish you hadn't.
In the south, April is kind, offering more hints of summer than of winter. Love's wisdom teaches the appreciation of all days, all weather, and all seasons. Yet appreciation is not the same as affection....
During three decades of spring in Ohio, I never liked the sight of melting snow dirtied by mud-splashing cars or the arrival of sudden sleet slashing the faces of new daffodils. It seemed that spring could never bloom safe up there. But, on my better days, I appreciate this month of "memory and desire."
There are memories of winter warmth inside: Christmas, the near presence of those we love, comfortable entry into a good book. And there is new desire awakened by spring. The desire of our humanity to smell new growth, to finger fresh blooms, to embrace hope.
But every seasonal change can be hard for caregivers. Exploding forsythia may bring happiness to many. To others who are living some loss in their lives, the arrival of bright yellow may break their hearts.
On Tuesday, I will be addressing a statewide convention of caregivers who help victims of abuse and neglect. What does April look like to them? Through the eyes of those who have suffered under the hand of so much rage, April may indeed seem like just another cruelty in their lives. They and their caregivers may wonder if the seasons of violence will every end.
Every organization dedicated to offering support and safety to sufferers has a political mission as well as a caregiving one. They, like all of us, desire an end to domestic violence. A positive way to frame this vision is to promote loving relationships.
Violence among people, not disease or natural disasters, is the true bane of human existence. If today is a typical day in Iraq, more than one hundred civilians will die violently. Hundreds more will be wounded by senseless acts of cruelty. Billions are spent to advance war. What resources are committed to advancing peace?
Today, lilacs will bloom, rivers will break free of winter's claw, mothers will give birth. And in certain, special pockets of refuge, loving caregivers will offer Love's sanctuary to those who have been unlucky enough to land in environments poisoned by striking hands and hateful words.
It will be a cruel month. And it will be a glorious one.