Counting Feathers

I went to bed angry last night, and I woke up angry today.

I went to bed filled with grief last night, and I woke up today weighed down with my sorrow.

I went to bed last night feeling betrayed and let down, and I woke up this morning feeling crushing disappointment.

Last night I felt despairing and hopeless. I went to bed and the mattress sagged with the sheer weight of my heavy emotions. No pillow could rest my aching head; no moonlight shone its cleansing rays into my room, just a dead orange glow from the streetlight on the corner. My dreams were chaotic and fearful. They left my body feeling tense and sore when I awoke this morning.

How, given all of this, will I face today with the fortitude and grace that today requires?

I will count each reason for gratitude or hope that comes my way, each reason a feather forming the wings that will eventually lift me up out of this depression.

One: My morning coffee is hot and comforting.

Two: The sun is shining.

Three: The red-winged blackbird perches on a branch just inches from me. He looks right at me, opens his beak and sings!

Four: I am surrounded by people who smile and greet me and try to make a difference in this community.

Five: A guest stops by my office to say she is looking for Joanna Macy’s book, Active Hope, but hasn’t found it in the book store – and I have an extra copy to offer her!

Six: Many people are standing up for a culture of compassion and justice, not just a culture of the bottom line. I am able to hear their voices, read their words.


I can count all day – each one thing fortifying my emotional resilience.

Each one thing whispering that love is not a lost cause.

Counting my feathers, one at a time: I am trudging under the weight of fears and concerns and dark emotions, until each step is perceptibly lighter, less heavy; until hope and gratitude become air under my feet and I am lifted up.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
       (Emily Dickinson)



6 thoughts on “Counting Feathers

  1. “Many people are standing up for a culture of compassion and justice, not just a culture of the bottom line. ” In this powerful sentence, you summed what makes me going every single day Jen. Thank you my friend!

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