Lyrics reminds us this too shall pass

I opened my car windows on a recent warm spring day, and, as I drove, the fresh air hit my cheeks and whipped my hair into happy knots. U2's song "40" played on the radio, and Bono's voice led the concert audience as they sang in unison, "How long to sing this song?"

As I sang along, I thought about how the song fits what we're all experiencing right now - it's about a person who is suffering and praying repeatedly to be rescued. These past months, I've found myself looking back at happier, easier days or forward to days hopefully filled with more freedom and good health. It's hard to sit still in this place where we are and look right at it, taking in all that we've shouldered and still bear. My heart feels tender. How long will this go on?

I know I'm not alone in this difficult limbo. I think a lot of us are cautiously excited but fearful, distracted by exposed noses and confusion about what's safe. I'm relieved when I'm out doing normal things but frustrated when I can't recognize or hear the masked people around me. I am thankful for my good health and also filled with dread when I hear stories about COVID-19's lingering effects. I don't know what comes next, but I desperately want to see the future. How long will this go on?

On the best days, and, despite my stewing, I find comfort in springtime. The Earth seems to have rested a bit during our extended hibernation, and brilliant, spring blossoms fall gently on vivid, green lawns. Today, on Earth Day, I am thankful for nature - the daffodils and tulips, the blue skies, the peace - and yet even these hopeful signs of spring are clouded by global warming. How long will this go on?

The man in U2's song is saved, and he begins to sing a new song. I hope our fervent work and prayers will bring about a similar rescue and change of tune. Maybe we're close, or maybe we have a ways to go. As the song ends, the music slowly fades and the crowd begins to carry the melody alone. They clap and raise their voices, everyone hooting and yelling because this is cool, that all these people are here, singing one song together.

Back from my reverie and in my car, I turn up the volume and sing loudly, wistfully, "How long to sing this song? I will sing ... sing a new song ..." The music, the wind, the sunshine - the possibility and freedom in the air catches my breath, and I keep on going, knowing this song will surely, inevitably end and begin anew.

- Carol Wittemann of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].