A week before Christmas, someone posted a poem by writer, L R Knost:
Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.
It seems these words have resonated with many people, including the editor of this almanac. I started thinking about the use of the word dismay in these lines and of how seldom I hear it used these days, even though many people are living lives of profound dismay and building on a world of dismay with every newsfeed and every conversation.
In an online etymology dictionary, one of the origins of dismay is from the Latin: to divest of power or ability. We stumble around, lacking the strength and the skill to change our worlds. Yet, Knost suggests an answer-intention. I have been wondering if this is enough.
On Christmas Day, we drove up towards Mt Meager hoping for photo ops. The light faded and the cold kept creatures at bay so I went for a walk instead; there was plenty of eating to be done, after all. For a half an hour, I strode up the valley with the dog at my side and I decided to memorize Knost’s poem. I had no copy of it save the memory of the lines I’d read a week before, yet somehow, I committed the words to my mind.
During this time, I dwelled on each line and questioned the validity-can all things be mended?; do all things break? am I the light?
And my answer came from movement and from the healing power I gave to the hills and forest ahead of me.
This is the world in which I live-these are the sights and sounds and feelings I create; if I do not willfully muster my intention to look for ways to mend things, they will remain broken.
One week after Christmas (almost,) searching for more information on LR Knost and on meanings for dismay, I came across Power Thesaurus which claimed an astonishing list of one hundred and ninety-nine antonyms for dismay. It’s a comforting, empowering list of words-I bookmarked it for those days when I do not feel up to memorizing a poem or walking in the woods.