Greeting Each New Day

Wow. I’ve been on a long, winding road of recovery and therapies. Honestly, I never knew very much about brain aneurysms before. Now I do. I’m doing really well. Therapies and therapists have mostly given me back a functioning body. Exhaustion, wobbly balance, a bit of confusion and an unsure memory are still my daily companions, but my arms and legs work!!

I struggle most with impatience and sorrow. I have “lost” so much time in my life. There are things I don’t remember. Even the moments that I know were filled with love and joy…some of them are just gone.

I reached a point where the gratitude of waking up in the morning in my own home and bed, with my sweet husband by my side was tempered with a lingering sadness. “Things” were different and in this case I didn’t feel like different was good. So, I asked Bruce to build me a small table that I could use as a personal “alter”. I draped it with the beautiful silk scarf from the 1,000 Goddess Gathering (information about the scarf from 1000 Goddess Gathering) (Gathering Information) Kwan Yin, the “Goddess of Mercy, One Who Perceives the Sounds of the World” silently keeps watch near by.

On my alter I have a gathering of things of personal and spiritual importance, and a hand drawn, framed picture I did with all the “prayers and blessings”, quotes and poems that have deep meaning to me…..things that help me focus on what matters most to me. I go through my own ritual in the morning that helps to set the tone of my day by focusing on blessings I have already received and reminders of how to walk gently, with humility and compassion through the day. After only a few days even my husband noticed a difference: he said I seemed less anxious, more calm/at peace, open and hopeful.

I haven’t even been able to do a blog post for the past two weeks as my emotions and fears are being so out-spoken. Here I am now, putting out there a very personal post about the spiritual side of me. It has changed me. And I am curious to know if others, you, do a morning routine to help set the course of the day. For me this is different from yoga, which also has a very healing effect on my mind and body. What I am talking about goes to a different place in my being.

Before I get out bed I give thanks: “with a grateful heart I give thanks for another day of loving.”

At my little alter I begin with some breaths. I shake my beautiful raku rattle with a butterfly on it. Lots of symbolism in butterflies and rattles are used in many prayer/spiritual circles to send blessings, prayers on their way. So I breath deeply and shake my little butterfly rattle. It was a tender, thoughtful birthday gift from my husband and children, and I just love it!

rattle

 

I begin with some of my favorite poems and thoughts:

Two poems from John O’Donohue:

May I rest in the silent moments, reach out to share joy and laughter. May I  pause in the moment to see and experience wonder. In this moment and the next, may I remember to give and accept love, to allow and rest in stillness.

May the nourishment of the earth be mine. May the clarity of light be mine. May the flowing fluency of the ocean be mine. May the protections of the ancestor’s be mine. And so, may a slow wind work the words of love around me, an invisible cloak to mind my life.

Then I move into the words of the Navajo Blessing Way prayer: ( here: Navajo Blessing Way) I change out the nouns, sentiments as I am moved to so so.

And then I do the Metta Prayer, sometimes referred to as The Loving Kindness prayer: it includes saying the prayer for yourself as well as others who touch your life.

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And this: “Hamsa”

Let no sadness come to this heart. Let no trouble come to these arms. Let no conflict come to these eyes. Let my soul be filled with the blessings of joy and peace.”

There are a few more words, prayers/poems I say, sending love and kindness out to others and the world.

I quietly set intentions for the day :  charity, sharing, taking care of others. I breathe deeply , letting go of any feelings of anger, resentment, disappointment, jealousy, fear.

Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Sometimes I do a few yoga poses or dance! to ground myself.

This is obviously all very personal and relevant to me, but perhaps not you. That’s okay.

This has been important to me on this path of healing and wellness….I am reminded about the many blessings I receive daily and reminded to see myself and others in a gentle light.

I will add this: while I would never wish this on anyone as it has been scary and difficult, I do understand that I have grown in ways I would not have otherwise grown. By necessity and peace of mind I have had to make friends/peace with my own pain/suffering, sadness, fears, loss and grief. I have learned to be open to being cared for and taken care of instead of being the one to do those things.  I have practiced over and over asking for what I need and not feeling like I am being a pest or bothersome. I have had to ask for help in tending to personal care and learn that it is neither embarrassing to ask for help, nor is it a failing or weakness. It just is. I have had to let go of wanting things to be a certain way, because they are not going to be. The house doesn’t always get cleaned up the way I want, but it is clean. The dishes and laundry get done and the floor gets swept, mopped and vacuumed. I have to graciously refrain from some things (driving, showering when no one is home, using the stars, going outside when no one is home) for safety reasons and abide by those things with a measure of gratitude rather than frustration  because I know they are in place because of love and concern over my safety and well being.

With a sense of awe and gratitude I have become very aware of the depth of the love and care friends and family hold for me. And my doctor who has made house calls to care for me! They are the “village” it is taking to heal me. ( Like: “It takes a village to raise a child.”) They are the friends and family who drive me places and to appointments, sit with me at home while Bruce works, plant my vegetable garden, take the cat to the vet, bring food, send story tapes over, play board games, set up baking days with me, come to my home to do yoga and embodiment with me, go grocery shopping for me, rub my feet, clip my toenails, scratch my back, help me in and out of twisted shirts and dresses, tie my shoes, call to ask if I’m okay in this heat, tend to me, asked and unasked, in a hundred ways, with full hearts and joyful smiles . They dry my tears and give me hugs. I am humbled. I take none of this for granted. I am overwhelmed and over flowing with love and kindness.

So, as each new day rises up and my sleepy eyes open I give deep thanks for not only medical care, therapists and help around the house, but for being loved. Surely, it is a gift and a blessing to be loved to the depth I experience.  And that is why I also include a prayer of gratitude for being given another day of loving. I get to give love back!!

Thank you sweet family and friends, for supporting me on this journey with so much love and tenderness. I am blessed to sit in front of my alter and reflect on all of this.

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Snorkeling

Here I am in the 8th month of recovery from a ruptured aneurysm. Many months ago my family and doctors saw me with only a very flat affect. Doctors and therapists were always careful to state that there was no way of knowing if this lack of emotion would remain or fade.  To my loved ones it seemed a part of me had disappeared. There was no connection to others, not even my family. Survival mode was in full swing. That was all I was able to do: survive.

I’m happy to share that that flat affect has faded and now the concern shifts to my being less inhibited!!! My family seems to think that now I am quite entertaining!

I am not allowed to drive so my sweet husband has the job of driving me to all my various doctor and therapist appointments. I am not sure what happens, but when I ride in a car the world becomes so entertaining to me. Sometimes even down right funny. The smallest thing—-seen, read, witnessed, seems to set off my funny bone and the almost uncontrollable giggling begins. The kind of giggling where it becomes difficult to catch my breath. For awhile my husband mumbled “What is so funny?” Now he simply states “Here we go again.” One time as he was calmly ignoring me and focused on driving, a new source of lightheartedness struck me.  “DO you know what I’m doing?” I asked  with quite a bit of excitement. With a side ways glance he cautiously ventured, “What?”

Before I could even respond another wave of deep laughter wriggled through my body. Tears formed. It took a few minutes before I was able to blurt out “SNORKELING!!!” The expression on his face changed from minor annoyance at the giggling, to one of confusion….”Snorkeling?” he queried. In a car in the middle of winter in New York state, snorkeling seemed a nonsensical topic. I think he may have decided to ignore me again for a few minutes which allowed me to try to gain control of the humor that had taken over my brain. After a big breath and long sigh I innocently asked “What is it when you put a snort together with a chortle?” This of course caused me to again loose control all over again. The poor man had no choice but to simply continue focusing on driving. Occasionally he would glance at me sideways.

It took several minutes for me to pull myself together. Cautiously he glanced over to me. “You get ‘snorkeling’ of course!!” I exclaimed with an immense sense of self satisfaction. What made perfect, and hilarious sense to me seemed to fluster my poor husband. He may have muttered “Oh God.”

By the time we arrived at the physical therapist’s I had found the where with all to control myself. Wiping a tear or two I went in for my appointment.

I know this is really inside humor, but now “snorkeling” is an accepted behavior in our family. Moments of uncontrollable humor that take over the mind and body leaving others dazed and confused. “Snorkeling”.

My birthday followed a few months later and I was handed a gift that was an odd shape and weight.

The initial tearing of wrapping paper revealed no clues but did heighten the curiosity. Finally, success! I was holding a SNORKEL! I bet you can imagine my response!!! What a perfect gift!!!For me it meant first and foremost that I was loved deeply. Even in my wounded state of being, the ups , no matter what they consisted of, were met with gratitude. “Snorkeling ” as defined above made no sense to anyone but me, yet my family embraced and even actively incorporated it into our familial life. Coming from a dark and scary place of not knowing what the extent of my recovering would ultimately be, “snorkeling” seemed fairly promising to them!! And to me!!

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 Birthday gift: snorkel!

Finding Beauty

“The most liberating thing about beauty is realizing you are the beholder.
This empowers us to find beauty in places others have not dared to look.
Including inside ourselves.”
~~Salma Hayek

It is easy to become bogged down in negativity and disillusionment. Sometimes life becomes overwhelming and we become lost in the ever looping cycle of disappointment, desire, longing, comparison, worry and maybe fear.

Winter is thinking about giving up it’s hold on Nature. It still is in the teasing phase of backing off for a day only to return the next with snow and cold. At these times we grumble through the house commenting on how cold it is. We dig the sweater out the drawer where it had carefully been put to keep safe until next winter. Looking out the window we are struck by how gray and white everything is, longing for color. Bleh. Winter. What is ever good about winter we wonder? We long for spring, sunshine, warmth, blue, green and yellow so we can feel good and cozy and energetic. Ahhhh, to be again in the Light.

Many years ago on a rainy, very cold and bitter Halloween a friend and I were with our children as they made the rounds of the neighborhood. My friend commented on how uncomfortable we all were in the chill of the night. As she spoke we passed under a street light that illuminated a web glistening with frozen crystals. I paused and marveled at the beauty of Nature’s art. My friend laughed as she passed me and wondered how I managed to find something of beauty to marvel at in the cold dreariness of the evening. She ended with “You seem to always find the good and the beautiful in everything.”

I laugh now remembering that night because I do not always remember to see the beauty of the moment. Honestly, sometimes it takes a great deal of effort to push passed all the wallowing. With mindfulness and being present, finding beauty can be some what effortless and always calming. Beauty is everywhere. Beauty helps us relax and find rest, hope and peacefulness.

“Beauty” is a word that has positive connotations. But “beauty” is in the eye of the beholder and we all have different definitions of beauty. My friend from Halloween did not define a sparkling web and a cold wet night as something of beauty. I did see it as such and acknowledged without the night and cold, I would possibly have never seen the beauty there in the light of a street lamp.

For me, the act of being present and mindful, in that situation, allowed me to see the inherent beauty in something separate from the moment in time that was physically unpleasant.

Honestly though, I am not able to do this all the time, but I do try to look for beauty, the goodness in a moment that may initially want to go down a different path. By pausing and taking note of any small, wonderful part of any moment my overall mood changes.

” A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” ~John Keats

The definition of beauty includes: ” gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” While the weather was miserable that night, the glittering spider web was visually beautiful and spoke to my spirit as something magically beautiful.

For me this is all just a reminder to pause to be aware of how we are viewing or approaching something during the course of our day. If we meet something with upset, regret, disappointment, hurt, the overall result is a negative feeling. If we pause and sit with whatever it is for just a little bit, perhaps we can find the pearl in amongst the discarded broken shells.

I am definitely working on this daily as I try to find any moment of beauty in the last 8 months recovering from an aneurysm. There was so much that was dark and scary. So many things that made me feel fear, anger, confusion, worry. Yet, with a deep breath and with pausing, I was able to find a few pearls. First there was the proof of love’s strength and courage. I have no doubt the love of my family and friends was key in me being able to surmount the dire possibilities of having an aneurysm rupture. I experienced the power of love. Oh, I most certainly had been aware of the power of love, but this was a new dimension of understanding.

As my body (and mind) heal I see the beauty in the strength of the human body to overcome obstacles. I find great beauty and blessing in having a warm bed each night that embraces my weary body and soul and allows me to sleep and be healed. I understand the beauty and gift of life each and every morning as I am aware that I have opened my eyes to a new day. I experience yet another level of beauty and joy in motherhood as I embrace my children. I look upon my husband and see the beauty of his love and selflessness as he walks side by side with me every single step of the way. I see and feel beauty in the cold of the morning because I feel it. There is beauty literally all around me. Within the act of acknowledging beauty I am becoming healed and whole. I experience gratitude and am humbled by the beautiful, nurturing power of love.

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Beauty comes to us all the time in so many ways. It is left to our interpretation of things to define experiences as beautiful or something different. It takes work and is sometimes difficult, but the payout is peace of mind, a full heart, and the promises of possibility, joy and hope.

I also know there are very bad things that happen to people and that beauty hides. This is my story, my walk with beauty. If you are in a dark and lonely place I will hold you gently in love and light.

 

 

 

 

 

Of Being In The World

“We have places of fear inside of us, but we have other places as well—places with names like trust and hope and faith. We can choose to lead from one of those places, to stand on ground that is not riddled with the fault lines of fear, to move toward others from a place of promise instead of anxiety. As we stand in one of those places, fear may remain close at hand and our spirits may still tremble. But now we stand on ground that will support us, ground from which we can lead others toward a more trustworthy, more hopeful, more faithful way of being in the world.”  ~~Parker Palmer

Horton Bay heron

drawing by me, Kathryn Howlett. Heron in Horton Bay, MI.

We don’t have to “BE” our fears.  You may be  familiar with ” be not afraid” . There are two dozen examples in the Bible.  It doesn’t tell us not to fear. It means we don’t have to “BE” our fears.

‘Fear’ feels like my middle name these days. It follows and haunts me. I feel as if my body and brain have betrayed me with this aneurysm. Some days I feel as if my fears weigh heavily on me and I am sinking. I don’t know how to toss the weight overboard. Sometimes it feels like I am holding on to a bouquet of helium/fear filled balloons and am being swept away and carried here and there with no control. To contemplate letting go of the fear only presents as another fear, falling and crash landing.  So, how do I get across the fault line of fear and to move instead to firmer ground of trust, hope and faith?
I look for places and time in the day where I can stand on steady ground and regain my balance and perspective. From these vantage points I can look out at the world and life around me with hope and trust.
To be aware of these places and times, I have to pause now and then to create a place of non movement and silence or near silence in order to be aware of them and to allow them to come to the forefront of my thoughts. In so doing I move gently towards a place of promise, away from fear.
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day 
is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”
Etty Hillesum
Sometimes I close my eyes and listen to music, or just close my eyes in silence. Sometimes I draw. Sometimes I read, but often that makes me think even more!! Focusing on my breath helps. Whatever aid I enlist has to come from a birthing point of awareness. I have to be mindful to create these spaces because they do not always give birth to themselves!!
These spaces of rest and quiet between my breaths nurture something deep inside of me. They set in motion self care and healing .
Within this space come the words and thoughts “Allow this to be a learning experience that you will grow from.” I don’t have to live from the place of, or to be “fear”.
I have to do three things. One, be mindful of the pauses and allow them to bring me a sense of peace and grounding. Two, to rest in those pauses. Three to look around and reach out to those who are near.
There are some days, or moments in the day when I forget and get wobbly and off balance. In those moments I have to call upon “trust” and reach or call out to those near by to steady me or maybe even catch me. It is okay for me to do that. Not only don’t I have to be perfectly balanced all the time, I need to give up the thought of possibly even being balanced all the time.
I am coming to understand that while I may not be able to be even keeled all the time, there is a centering that happens through the awareness itself. When I breathe deeply and regain my balance, there comes an easy awareness of the pause between breaths and I can rest for a time in the presence and grace of that pause. And healing comes forward wrapped in a gentle blanket of quiet, trust, hope and faith. And when I am wrapped in that blanket the whirling of my thoughts slow down, and I am able to “be” in a space of less worry and fear. A place of balance and awareness where allowing just being to be enough.
Awareness allows me to have days that do contain moments of the healing pauses. The softer hours of sunset and sunrise seem to be the more fertile times for the pausing to arise. The slowing breaths, the quieting of the mostly ever present endless commentary of dreams, thoughts and worries, opens the door and allows for the stepping out into quieter, less kinetic places in my mind. And here, not unlike being out in Nature on a mountain top or standing next to the lullaby of ocean waves greeting the sandy beaches, I find myself in the places Parker Palmer refers to : places with names like trust and hope and faith.
Signing off now to go visit one of those places for awhile. Going to reflect on the way I want to choose to “Be” in the world as I recover and recoup.
A previous post: The Pause Between Breaths

After The Rain

Good morning. There is about a 6 inch covering of snow on the ground so no, it is not raining here. The rain in the title refers to difficult times in life. We all know these moments….times when we can feel such intense emotions that we feel as if they are raining down on us and we attempt to seek cover to prevent us from becoming soaked or washed away.

If you have been following this blog you know I am recovering from a ruptured aneurysm.

 

“When after heavy rain the storm clouds disperse, is it not that they’ve wept themselves clear to the end?” ~Ghalib

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Grief is our response to loss. Through grief we can feel the depth of our loss and resulting pain. We process to the degree to which we feel the truth of the pain, from not only loss, but what occasionally feels like betrayal. By allowing and feeling the process of grief we slowly begin to recognize, integrate and eventually accept these truths that come through grief. As we slowly integrate our thoughts and feelings there comes a time when we are ready to let go and the time has come to grieve. We can only let go and go forward if we honor and allow these feelings and to experience grief.

One result of the aneurysm has been the loss of memory. As I slowly came out of a drug induced  twilight of mostly sleep I became aware of the absence of the people I loved dearly. My husband and children, my sister and sweet friends flowed in and out of my hospital room, but where I wondered,were my parents and step mom?

In the course of inquiring about these missing loved ones I was told the three of these loved people had passed on years before. I assume the degree of shock and sorrow I experienced at this was not so different from the first time around. Writing this and recalling that shaking grief, I sigh heavily at the thought of experiencing it twice. How could I not remember my parents dying? Anger and sadness burst out of me. It was easier for me to believe my family standing in front of me were lying than to believe my parents and step mom were gone.

What I know to be true even without recalling the old memories is that I came to a point in time when it was time to let go and to grieve (again). There was absolutely nothing for me to do but to let go of the sorrow and feelings of loss and to grieve.

As I have worked with various therapists and as time has become a natural healer, I have regained some of these memories. I have a deep sense of gratitude in having them once again because, even as the first time, there was such healing and insight as I walked down the path of saying good bye and burying my parents. Yes, the deep, soul wrenching sorrow was there, but in coming to the point where I was able to honor the flood of feelings and emotions, I was then able to move forward.

Right now I feel as if I am going through a similar experience. I experience grief over having lost who I was. The aneurysm has left my body and my mind different, changed. Strength, stamina and coordination are off. Memory skills are weak….I live off a calendar so I can remember to take medication, doctors appointments when my children are home and when they are leaving. Because of both I feel dependent and fragile in ways I am not used to feeling. There is a sense of loss, grieving and often confusion.

Sometimes, when I am in the quiet space of just falling asleep or beginning to wake in the morning I understand on a tender, inner level that I can only let go and go forward if I honor and allow these feelings and to grieve, again. By allowing this I also have to allow myself to feel, come to terms with and release my grief about my going through the experience have having an aneurysm and all the associated medical procedures and surgeries with all the varying physical results of pain, discomfort, bruising, tiredness, and loss of independence. Most certainly this a different kind of loss and grief than of loosing a loved one to death, but in many ways I feel I have lost part of myself. I have “lost” the memories of the experiences that molded me to become the person I am, I have lost memories of love and tenderness.

Still, it is time to take in a breath and survey where I am mentally, physically and emotionally and to take the first steps to moving forward.

Some memories are returning. Although they linger behind a soft fog, they are there, peeking out and I hope one day they will walk all the way through the soft curtain of “forgotten”.

To all my family and friends who have walked next to me these past 7 1/2 months I thank you for your love and presence. I hope you will continue to stay by my side and help me regain my physical strength and my emotional health. Memories that we once shared may now be yours alone, and with time and nudging I hope those memories will become shared again.

To the blog followers who are not personal friends or family, thank you for the opportunity for me to share these feelings, thoughts and stories. I know they are an important part of my healing.

“It takes courage to grieve, to honor the pain we carry. We can grieve in tears or in meditative silence, in prayer or in song. In touching the pain of recent and long-held griefs, we come face to face with our genuine human vulnerability, with helplessness and hopelessness. These are the storm clouds of the heart.” Jack Kornfield

“Releasing the grief we carry is a long, tear-filled process. Yet it follows the natural intelligence of the body and heart. Trust it, trust the unfolding. Along with meditation, some of your grief will want to be written, to be cried out, to be sung, to be danced. Let the timeless wisdom within you carry you through grief to an open heart.” Jack Kornfield

 

 

This Path

“This is my wish for you:
Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes,
rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips,
sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag,
beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being,
faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt,
courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth,
Love to complete your life.”

*Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I have wandered down this path of recovery I have done so hand in hand with family and friends. Holding me tight so I wouldn’t trip and fall at the uneven parts, each companion offered physical support, but more importantly spiritual and emotional encouragement. My unsteadiness, which caught me off guard, was anticipated and brought to balance again and again by the mindfulness of my companions. While the pace slowed and turned cautious at times, I did find the courage to know myself and to have  the confidence to trust and reach out and a faith that glued everything together.
My wish for all of us mirrors the poem. That each of us have a source of comfort when we face challenges, smiles that can soften sadness, a glimpse of the beauty that is ahead, laughter to lighten the weight, arms to circle us, open eyes and heightened senses, others to shine a light to show the way for us, belief in a higher plan, the knowledge that we are stronger than we may think, to sense what is true and to know and share a love that binds everything together.

Being in a place of uncertainty and dependency I have learned that there is grace in vulnerability. This vulnerability teaches me  to let go of the uncertainty and fear of the unknown, and to spend less time working to control that unknown. As I remind myself to slow down a bit in body and mind, to savor the flavors of this moment rather that looking too far ahead especially with expectations and longing. Right now is what is and when I slow a bit I find great comfort and even security in the moment. I can feel myself wrapped in a blanket of love: the love of the moment, the past, and yes even the future. A love that allows this moment to be full and enough.

Before the aneurysm I had had several experiences that I knew had come from a place of grace and love. Things that at first were difficult to explain, yet held recognizable truths for me. The “message” or “lesson” was clearly for me at that particular time.

In the course of difficult days there is a comfort that comes when I am open to receiving. There are tender smiles for me when sadness intrudes.
When I look up and outward there are rainbows that do follow the clouds. There are smiles and  laughter lingering on my lips.
The sunsets do warm my heart. A hug is always available when my spirits sag.

jan 2013a
Beauty is all around me. Friendships brighten my life.
In my heart there is a faith that sustains me. Tucked inside there is a confidence to lean on when I have doubts.
As I grow I find I do have courage to know and honor my true self. It comes with a patience that is able to accept the truth of what is.
I have been blessed with many great loves that are all a part of the greater circle of love that surrounds me.

Today. at lunch, my husband, daughter and I talked about my recent time in the hospital and rehab after the aneurysm. So many thoughts and feelings surfaced for each of us. Memories and emotions that we each are still processing. Contained in all of these were tears, smiles, and soft laughter. The balance of awe and awareness that could only be witnessed at this moment. We each had a palpable memory of the uncertainty, fear and helplessness that comes at such times. As we looked at each other, the power of the moment, THAT one moment, there was a whisper of understanding, grace, love and gratitude. We were lifted up. I felt so full.  Here, around a table looking out over the lake, a love that is so enduring bound some of the worry and fear and placed it to the side. This moment was for being in the loving presence of each other and breathing in the gratitude that nourished us body and soul.

I am on some kind of a journey. One I had not planned nor was I prepared for. The ride has been bumpy and I have strayed a bit from the path, but have been guided back on course.
Each day I struggle to see the same progress those around me see that I have made. I think I am beginning to allow myself to see the same healing and change as the fear and worry fade a bit to the back ground. I know I am so much more aware of the blessings in my life and am able to give them their rightful place of guiding lights on this amended path.

Writing this I might even go so far to say that I see and understand this aneurysm , as terrifying and scary as it has been, has brought me to this day, on this path, with a new perspective on many things. Now, I ask to be given the strength and courage to find my way on this path. I believe it will lead me to opportunities to explore the rawness of a powerful love, the parting of the fog that covers what is right in front of us, and a inner strength that goes forward with a brighter light showing the way.

 

A Place of Love

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I currently have a lot of time to explore new authors and books, music and poetry, recipes and art. In exploring a topic for this blog I came across a TED TALK by Valerie Kaur, link here: Revolutionary Love . Her words brought me hope, some tears, excitement and courage. This, I thought to myself, THIS is what I want to write about this week.

The quote above from Parker Palmer popped up next and voila! I had a solid theme for a blog post.

The fundamental premise is to look around and ask yourself “Who have we not yet tried to love?” What are each person’s individual stories that we need to hear because those the are stories can help us see there is no stranger among anyone we meet.  

One of the greatest gifts I have been offered/given in my life has been the opportunity to travel and even live in places all over the world. Some of the time I traveled with friends, my father, my husband, and most recently my children. But some of the time I traveled alone. Taken out of the comfort zone of what I was familiar with I found myself experiencing some worry and anxiety. Some of this arrived at my door step even before I began the adventure. What would happen if….? How do I…….? Is there…..? Who will……..? Questions based on uncertainty and a little bit of fear and worry. I was entering a realm of the unfamiliar, even the unknown. I would be my own source of comfort, courage and ingenuity. I would be in places and situations where I did not speak the language that might have been required for me to ask for help or direction. Off I went! First I traveled to India and Nepal. My father, an Episcopal minister had been asked to be part of the team traveling with a group of college students. He was able to make arrangements for me to go with him. After that we were off to Belgium for The Second World Conference on Religion and Peace. Before going to Belgium we stopped in Denmark where I stayed with a Danish family for almost a week. I no longer remember what my father was up to! With in this same trip I went to Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, France and Germany with my father.

Years later I traveled with my dear friend AnaLisa to attend a 6 week college session in England, and then I traveled to Corfu, Greece before meeting her again in Athens where we made arrangements to live in Iraklion, Crete. Years later, married, I found myself traveling to Japan with another friend and her young son. Eventually my husband would come and join me and we would remain in Kyoto for another 6 months. In each and every place there were people who reached out with their heart and hand when there was no shared spoken language. Yet there was love, care, respect, help and trust.

It’s true, as Parker Palmer writes, we all have places of fear. Right next door are places of hope, trust and faith. They are just a step away from the place of fear, yet the first step to leaving fear behind sometimes seems like such a huge, wide one and we falter and pause, wondering if we can get across the chasm. if we would but only take a moment to look up instead of towards our feet, chances are we would find another on the other side reaching out to lend a hand. We are guided and supported by probably hundred of people through out our lives. Those who will reach out to us offering the very best of our humanness. If by some chance we still stumble or fall they are still there to pick us up and dust us off.

As I have been on this journey of healing and recovery I have stood at the edge of that chasm. Frozen by the unknown and fear. It has been a mind game of sorts, and a tug of war with my sense of pride as controlled by ego. Voices in my head yell “You shouldn’t need the help and support of others. Take care of yourself for heaven’s sake.” The dreaded “shouldn’t s”. BUT, if as Parker says I am able to instead, begin from a place of promise, a place of hopefulness, I will head in a direction not so scary and uncertain. And maybe, I will not travel alone. Perhaps now that the foundation is more stable perhaps others will follow me towards a more trustworthy, more hopeful, more faithful way of being in the world.

I can remain stuck in the quagmire of self pity, uncertainty, cynical thoughts and feel all the accompanying feelings and emotions which may only add proof that I am in fact stuck here forever. Or I can gather myself up and step just next door to faith, hope and trust. From this place stepping forward is not so intimidating, so impossible looking.

Sitting here, having walked through a door I never even saw (the aneurysm) and finding myself frozen in disbelief and fear, I am humbled. Humbled by what I now understand is a kind of strength, promise and hopefulness. It comes from deep inside of me, upheld by the foundation built from the love of others. There is no weakness or shame in reaching out to others. It may just be that they are in fact the bridge that connects us, me, to a more trustworthy , more hopeful, more faithful way of being in the world. A place where we heal, grow, love, share, offer, receive, nurture, trust and discover and gain the strength to reach out to others in return.

I put a lot of time into thinking about all this because it is my path to healing and regaining pieces of my life. I am not blind to the goings on of our world. There is much pain and suffering. There is divisiveness and mistrust, anger and fear. When I am quiet in my heart I understand some of this mistrust, anger and fear because, for a moment I am able to put myself in the proverbial shoes of the “Other”.

I am in a place where I feel out of control of the situation, at the mercy of things I cannot control, scared and worried, unsure and uncertain of the future, and sad. When I can understand the situations others are in that may cause them the same feelings and reactions, I am able to feel connected to them, as if I am standing next to them rather than against them. It is possible we may look at each other in recognition of this and reach out towards each other, helping one another.

It’s been difficult to see the silver lining of the past six months, but it is there. It is the cloak of hope and love. Both hold a guiding lantern up to the perceived darkness of not knowing and soften the fear, the uncertainty as they guide us to our place in the world were the light shines on trustworthiness, hopefulness and faith. And it is in this place, understanding there are no strangers, we rest in the arms of others, where we may find comfort, pause, healing and growth. We will discover the one we have not yet tried to love is not so different from us. We need only to care enough to listen to their story with an open heart and then reach out to them with compassion and empathy.

So, this Sunday I contemplate my own way of Being in this world. What guides me and sustains me?