Winter Kept Us Warm—Blogging The Waste Land Part 5

Winter Kept Us Warm—Blogging The Waste Land Part 5


Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

Winter kept us warm… There’s a paradox for you. That paradox leads me to the paradox of Christ: unless a grain of wheat shall fall upon the ground and die… Christianity is always a paradox, always a mystery. Life meets death and like Eliot’s Magi we aren’t certain if we’ve witnessed Birth or Death. Where are Chaucer’s pilgrims going? Chaucer points us to the holy martyr. To a tomb, a place of death, the place of martyrdom. A Martyr embraces death, knowing that death of the body is the birth of eternal life in heaven.

In this first stanza I recognize the moment of spiritual crisis when the soul begins to awaken to a realization that it is being called to rebirth and renewal. There is such a huge chasm that separates the sinner from grace—or so it can seem—and death stands in the way. The only way to achieve new life is to embrace the cross, to accept death of self. And that death can seem so terrifying. I don’t want to die to my self. I’m comfortable with the present me. Sure, maybe there are some grimy sins I’d like to get rid of… but only if it doesn’t hurt. Easier to forget the whole question of faith, God, salvation. Easier to lose yourself in the entertainment of the present moment. Put off the day of reckoning as long as possible. But then comes the pesky spring, calling you to awake, beckoning you to set forth from your comfortable home, to go on a pilgrimage, to embrace the road, the journey, knowing that it will lead you to the grave, the cross, the place of martyrdom.  There is no other way but the Way.

covering earth in forgetful snow I love that forgetful snow. Here again we have the theme of memory. What have we forgotten? Why are we cut off from the past? What have we lost? What needs to be remembered and recollected?

feeding a little life with dried tubers. It is that phrase that always makes me think of Van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters at this point in the poem. It’s not a favorite painting of mine. So dark and dreary. The faces feel rather like caricatures instead of real people. It makes me think of period illustrations of Charles Dickens’ works. And yet… I also have the distinct feeling that Van Gogh loved these people that he’s painted. His brush reveals no scorn for them. Likewise, Eliot’s poem always seems to have a deep compassion for his characters, small souled though they may be.

Also, I love that word, tubers. Such a firm, earthy word. Roots. There are more roots to come in the poem. Roots that clutch, roots that feed. Roots are hidden but so important. And I suddenly think of the O Antiphons, O Radix Jesse. Do the roots deliberately point us to Christ?

The enjambment continues and here the verbs, covering and feeding… I get a feeling that winter is a mother, caring for her children. In fact, now I notice that all of the verbs are very domestic and maternal: breeding, mixing, stirring, covering, feeding. I’m not sure where to take that, just an observation.

I started this post almost two weeks ago. But this flue has had us in its nasty grip for almost that long as well. Now that sickness is slowly letting go its hold, perhaps I can pick up the pace a little bit. We’ll see. Motherhood is never dull.

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Summer Surprised Us—Blogging The Waste Land Part 6

Master Index of Waste Land posts.



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  • Thanks, Ellie. I hope he’s better soon; but I fear it will get worse before it gets better. Turns out amoxicillan gives Anthony diarrhea. But he did actually have a little good time today and even laughed a bit.

  • Oh Melanie, I am so sorry you are having to deal with all of this!  WRT jury duty, there is never a good time.  I will pray that you don’t have to do a trial, that they let you go early, and especially that you can say afterward, thank goodness you don’t have to serve later in the year.

    One of the ironies of my life is that I would still love to serve on a jury and never will.  The reason for both is that I have a law degree.  Once I was called during a maternity leave, got into the voir dire – and both attorneys declared themselves satisfied with the selected jury as soon as I was the next juror.  But I understand how disruptive it is, so I hope you are spared.

  • Sorry to hear it!  We keep doing the same thing here.  One after another, the kids keep getting colds/coughs/crankies.  We have gone around numerous times disinfecting the house, to no avail.  Hope this season is almost over, and that you are holding up!

  • scotch meg, thanks for the prayers wrt jury duty. I had the most pleasant court officer who dismissed me right away and told me I could put off my service until November. And then gave me her personal number so that if I had a day come up when it was convenient for me to serve that I could call and she’d put me on the list. Even if I called the day before. So that was a great blessing.

    Renee, Oh dear. You have so many more people for a cold to go through!

    We all do seem to be on the mend, though it is fading slowly and Dom seems to have hit a second wave and is a bit worse. Other than that I’m also dealing with Anthony’s amoxicillan induced diarrhea, force-feeding him probiotics, poor baby. Though Sophie also seems to be on round two with the runny nose and cough getting worse this week instead of better and I’m still watching Ben to make sure his increased crankiness at bedtime isn’t an early warning sign of an ear infection. My introvert nerves are jangling with everyone’s sleep and nap schedules being crazied up. I am rather desperate for a long stretch of quiet just to write. But we’re holding up and I can maybe see the light at the end of the tunnel. Prayers for you and your crew. I do hope the babies are staying well. (I still think of your Melanie as a baby, though I know she’s now a big sister.)

  • I remember those times of illness. I’d drag myself out of bed with sore throat and temperature to nurse the rest of the family. There seemed to be endless days and nights to the strep throats or viruses shared by our three. And I remember multiple trips to the toilet with one vomiting, the endless wiping of surfaces, noses and hot little arms and heads. The days filled with tucking in blankets, reading of a favorite story, finding a loved toy or preparing “a treat” that would encourage eating are gone now.

    My days are quiet. There are no cranky whines, tears and temper, giggles and shouts they are gone.  My three are grown, away, and busy about life.

    In the middle of your tempest breath in family and embrace the season of illness. This will be a memory you will treasure for you are learning selfless love.