the storyless season

| November 20, 2016 | 8 Replies

At midday Saturday the sun shone full into the kitchen window. I almost wished that I hadn’t done the dishes already, but that’s a silly thing to wish, isn’t it? Forget dishes. I pinched some droopy lavender between my fingers and inhaled the fragrance. I set up my computer on the sink. I wanted to write. Why not do so standing up at the kitchen sink, drinking in the sun?


I’ve gone through a hard time over the past eight months: a bone-deep sadness that wasn’t precipitated by any event I can pinpoint. I’ve searched high and low on a quest to figure out What’s Wrong. I’m taking fistfuls of supplements and forgoing gluten, sugar, and dairy (most of the time, at least). I’ve had my hormones checked and batteries of blood tests. I exercise, take myself outside, and show up for social events even though I feel like lousy company. I continue my spiritual practices with a combo of doubt and dogged determination.

For me, this is a crisis of narrative more than anything else. I want to know the story I’ll tell about this season ten years from now. I’m afraid if I can’t figure out the Whys of my pain, I might never rise from this battered place.

But this weekend trust has felt closer at hand. Saturday morning I joined my sister-in-law Becca at Zumba class, shaking our hips and calling out “Woo!” at the instructor’s prompting. I felt happy and healthy and marvelously ridiculous. David and I took a walk with the dog, and I allowed myself to really feel my husband’s hand in mine. Such a good, warm sensation.

Today I met Stoneridge friends Cameron and Diane at Plum Island. Cameron and her granddaughter had braved the wind and cold to etch a Thanksgiving labyrinth into the sand. Back at Stoneridge I walked our little concrete labyrinth quite often. Cameron grinned at me. “You know how to hold gratitude,” she said. I stepped into the labyrinth and gratitude surged up in me in the form of a silent sob. I’m so grateful to be alive, I thought. I’ve been jotting thanks in my journal each night at bedtime, but what a mercy it was to feel that gratitude in my bones.



I don’t know why sorrow arrives, but I know how to notice the sunlight and stand in it. I may not know how this season figures into the story of my life, but I’m meeting it as best I can.

It’s a lot like meeting winter in New England: invest in your attire and your equipment and then show up with all the good faith you can muster. You’re still going to be mighty cold at times, but would you rather hide for months on end?

The “equipment” of this season in my life: dog walks, meditation, games of cribbage with David, time with friends, re-reading the Anne of Green Gables series. Eating a lot of dried fruit. Teaching feels like a slog most days, and so I make it a point to pull aside and thank the students who delight my soul.

I don’t want to escape this season but to show up for it. If the quest for What’s Wrong keeps leading me nowhere, perhaps it’s time to take up a different quest. Maybe call it life.

Category: beauty, friends, journey, pain, the seasons

Hannah Lynn Mell

About the Author ()

Hannah Lynn Mell grew up a missionary kid in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Now she lives in Rowley, Massachusetts with her exquisitely kind husband David and their charming three-legged cat, Thomas. She's worked with singers since 1998 and loves to help people of all ages free their voices.

Comments (8)

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  1. Sarah Webber says:

    Hi Hannah! What a wonderful story you just wrote – raw, honest and real. You always lit up the toddler house at Stoneridge when you walked in, but know that you don’t have to light up the room – you are enough just as you are. Happy or sad you are a gift to this world. Keep fighting Honey

  2. Mama says:

    Oh!
    Thanking Life Maker for more!!
    How I love and admire you, darling HannahLynn girl!!

  3. Dr. E says:

    Last week I wrote in my Journal that roses grow in dirt. But no one looks at it or smells it and says how beautiful is the dirt. Yet it is necessary, for without it, the beautiful rose would die. Thank you for sharing the deep recesses of your spirit. They are forming the fertilizer for the beautiful life you are living.The first line of a song I once knew, “Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning, weeping may endure for the night…” God bless you. You are loved. Dr. E

  4. Hannah:

    Thank you for being so honest and real with you writing. Thank you for being YOU, even though it doesn’t sound so easy of late. That’s a hard place to be, no getting around it. We’re all thinking of you though, and maybe that helps just a bit. Just know that there is still a great deal of sun inside just waiting to come out, and the clouds will pass in time.

    One of the best pieces of advice I read a long time ago (it may have been from Kurt Vonnegut, or maybe it was even a song). In any case it quite simply said: “Don’t feel bad about feeling bad.” It can be such a huge burden to place guilt on top of sadness, and such a relief to realize just how unnecessary it is to keep doing it.

    Be well. Be at Peace. 🙂

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