Until things are brighter

Drew at the graves of Heloise and Abelard, cemetery Père Lachaise, Paris 2005

“Ah, I’d like to wear a rainbow every day
and tell the world that everything’s ok
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
‘Till things are brighter, I’m the Man in Black.”
— Johnny Cash

“Every man knows he’s a sissy compared to Johnny Cash.”
— Bono

Optimism untempered by reality is only delusion.  This blog exists because I believe with all my heart in the power of positive thinking; that the thoughts we allow our minds to dwell upon do indeed change reality in more ways than we can imagine.  But a resounding tribute is owed to those who open our eyes to the pain and suffering all around us.  On Pearl Harbor Day, it seems appropriate to pause and turn our thoughts in a more somber direction.

Everyone loves enthusiasm and joy.  Those who speak for the suffering, the desperate, and the deserted are seldom popular.  From the prophets of old to the modern doctors who must deliver a devastating diagnosis,  we all tend to want to shoot the messengers who bring dark news.  Yet these people do play a necessary, if thankless, role.

Those of us who have known deep and seemingly unrelenting sorrows can testify that sunny platitudes are sometimes what we least need to hear.  The Bible tells us to weep with those who weep, for there is a time for weeping.  Today, I reflect in gratitude for the tearful prayers of so many who understand our present suffering and share our sorrows.   I invite you to listen to the words (linked above) of the unforgettable “Man in Black” and take a few moments to remember those who are suffering today.  May we never flinch at our duty to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”


  1. On the surface, the subject sees akin to the philosophy that “there is no beauty in the world without ugliness. But, the phrase in your entry, “untempered by reality” jumped out at me. I fear that just as the tempering process for steel can be overdone, that at some point, my little sister can be subjected to too much “tempering”!

    • Eric, that’s an understandable and valid fear. But try to remember, such “tempering” has been going on in our lives for over 27 years now. Looking back over those years, there have been times when the most healing and comforting reaction I’ve had from loved ones is for them to simply cry with me, knowing there are some sorrows too deep for words. When people share our grief on that level, it can help us to feel less alone. I know you are among those who understand this.

  2. Mike Bertoglio

    I was reading something about the prophets that they were those who not only made predictions but also “named,” or diagnosed what was happending in the culture; what was really taking place in the world around them. They told it like it is- popular or not. As the song said, “What’s going on?” What is going on when the way of violence is still the preferred method for solving our differences. What is going on when so many live without health insurance, adequate housing or sustenance. What is going on? So I think your word is prophetic in that you are not afraid, to name what is really here. Even the darkness, the evil, the death and yet,” a light still shines in the darkness’; a light I hang my hope on. And the darkness can’t put it out, though it tries so hard to do so.

    • Thanks, Mike — I too “hang my hope” on the light that cannot be overcome or even understood. (John 1:5)

  3. Jaime

    Pearl harbor day is indeed a day to be somber. Nevertheless, I chose to honor the past and continue to work with others for a better future for all, especially those who are suffering or poor.

    • Thanks, Jaime — I think such efforts are the most appropriate way to honor the sacrifices of those who have gone before us.

  4. A sorrow shared is a sorrow divided.
    (Hence the admonition “Weep with those that weep.”)
    A joy shared is a joy multiplied.
    (Hence the admonition “Rejoice with those that rejoice.”)

    Bless you

    • So True! Thank you, Carla!

  5. Connie Clower

    Julia, when you speak of friends who are unafraid to share tears with you, it resonates with me. I know that after we lost our son five & one half years ago, we learned to embrace our emotions. I sometimes laughingly tell people that we are the family that cries together. When friends are going through difficulties, I always tell them to call me if they need someone to cry with. I have become a very good crier over the last several years. But mostly I have learned to embrace the emotions God has given me to express myself. I love you & Jeff. You are in my prayers & on my heart. I am always here if you need someone to help bear your pain!

    • Connie, thanks so much for being with us through this. You are one of the few friends who has known Jeff longer than I have, and so many of our earliest memories together include you. I am so thankful for your example of steadfast faith in life’s most difficult trials.

  6. That’s a handsome young man you have there Julia and looking so serious, ha. Maybe contemplating life and love or the love of his life. They certainly have many beautiful monuments in Paris. I love that history is all around you there and in other places like Rome and Venice. Living in the West is so different of course, our history is so new.

    It’s hard to be optimistic if you start to consider the reality of some things. But I do like to think there is power in positive thought and that what I put out there will come back in abundance. I feel that in my life and of course the WordPress community has really reinforced that idea for me every day.

    • Yes, Drew has always been a serious young man. He particularly wanted to see where Heloise and Abelard were laid to rest. I’m glad, because I loved our day at that wonderful cemetery and I got to see, among other graves, that of my favorite artist Camille Pissarro.

      I totally agree about WordPress and other online voices of sanity and optimism. I will always believe that faith, hope and love are stronger than the darkest adversity or evil. But if we let the voices of despair, hatred and fear drown us out, we give them an easy victory in too many lives. As we send out good and generous and hopeful messages I do know from experience that they come back to us tenfold. Thanks for being in the company of the cheerful!

      • Since I wasn’t familiar with this artist, I looked him up. I can see why Pissarro would be your favourite. Very interesting life of travel, art and marriages. I can’t imagine traveling from The Virgin Islands to Venezuela and then to France by boat in the 19th century. I have a number of favourites, but especially love John Singer Sargent. It was such a golden time in history for artists.

        • I actually know very little about Pissarro’s life (though I did get a novel about him by Irving Stone that I hope to read someday). I was drawn to an amazing painting of his that I saw at the LA County Museum of Art, (a print of which now hangs in the dining room of our York home) and began to notice that I liked all his paintings. I’m a big fan of Impressionist art anyway, but Pissarro’s touch seems a bit different to me. I like Sargent as well, especially this one which was in the art book I used to look at for hours on end when I was young. It always felt so magical to me.

          • Somehow, I’ve missed a whole group of messages and only seeing this now, my goodness.
            I do like that Pissarro too, I wonder if he painted it ‘in place’? I think they talked about that being his style. Wow, 1903 was a year before my Grandpa was born.
            I could look at the Sargent painting for hours. Each blade of grass, each flower in bloom, the children and lights in the lantern…just magical. Such talent is a gift.

            • Yes, both those paintings seem alive to me. That Pissaro took my breath away. When seen from across the room, you can almost see the carriages and people moving about the streets. I’m so thankful for the artists – who give their entire lives (literally) to develop such talent. We are all the beneficiaries.


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