It’s rare Saturday night in February. Rare because it is nearly seventy degrees, in Ohio, in February. All of the windows are open, along with the big doors out to the deck off of the breezeway. You’ve Got Mail plays for the hundredth time in the other room above the well-loved fireplace, that isn’t needed tonight. I decide to plant my Hyacinth bulbs. The ones I bought to force in little containers and fill my house with their beauty. I pause and look around and I have this moment when I feel this feeling. This feeling I chase. This feeling that all is right in the world, even if just for a minute. I am home. There is a breeze and life is so good.
The next Saturday night follows suit. Only this time, it is snowy and cold and I am back in front of the fire. Ina’s French Onion soup simmers away on the stove and I am cozy and warm. And life is so good.
There are so many more of these mornings and afternoons and evenings. So many moments that force me to catch my breath and slow down so I can feel the inhale and exhale of life.
And as if life just couldn’t get any better, I hear these words from my doctor - We did it. We are on the field. We might just win this. - I know his lingo now. Sports analogies. And I know being on a field is a good one. I leave his office feeling I figured it out. I figured out how to heal. I will be well and life is good.
Ah. I know better. This isn’t the end. I don't know anything, really.
I come up with a lot of plans or schemes to heal. I write schedules and set alarms. I release negative energy in anyway I can and try to fill my body with only goodness. I eat Kale and recite positive affirmations in the mirror. I try to be generous and kind when I can and bow out or forgive myself when I can’t. I do whatever I can to heal these wounds and stop the pain.
I know better, though. Healing has very little to do with new and tough scar tissue and eliminating pain. Because the moment one wound heals, another will open, and, once again, there is pain. Pain never goes away. In the very same way life can be so good, it can also be so very painful. And, as if I am learning it for the very first time, I struggle with this great divide. I struggle because I know the most difficult and beautiful part about being human and fully alive is living, smack-dab, in the middle of this great confusion.
I woke up everyday at five o’clock in the morning to write to you what I learn about healing and I just couldn’t finish the post. Something was missing. I looked at the stories and the notes and all of the pictures and the quotes I jotted down from movies and books that popped up along the way. I tried to piece them together and write the lesson. But, I just couldn’t.
Without warning, I ended up sick again several days ago. I grasped for air because my kidneys were having trouble filtering the antibiotics that I so desperately needed and, once again, I was in the bathroom begging for an answer. And just like so many of these bathroom cry fests end, I found a bit of peace, curled up in bed, and put on a movie. The movie was, Jackie.
Some of the very best scenes in this movie are the conversations between Jackie and a priest. Without giving too much away Ill share my favorite moment. Jackie confides in the priest that she thinks God is mean and she never wants to wake up again, but she does anyway and she just can’t figure out why she keeps believing and waking up when life seems so painful and cruel. And the priest, among many other profound words, explains we live for the tiny moments of understanding and we are given just enough understanding to keep going. And then he tells her, "God in His infinite wisdom has made sure that it (life) is just enough for us."
Pain will never go away. This is not pessimistic or giving into hurt. It is wise. We can numb pain however we choose - with food, with traveling, with gossip, or constantly escaping, or shopping or drugs or alcohol, or working too much, or trying to pretend we are so happy we are slowly dying inside. The truth is though the only things the numbing agents do for us is, just that, numb. And over time, we become so numb we realize we aren’t really living at all. We are just trying to escape and avoid one pain after another.
Living and healing go hand in hand. To be healed is to learn there is no life without pain. But, our job is create just enough or so much, interchangeably, that the pain isn’t so bitter. Because when I sit at look at all of these jotted down quotes, and little stories of joy, and pictures of all of the moments that were just enough, and I realize I am alive and well and life IS good, I learn just enough really is enough. In fact, life is pretty amazing and stunningly beautiful. And then, I can’t wait to get up tomorrow and keep going.
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only things you can do is to enlarge your sense of things.... Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”
-from an aging Hindu master taken from Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
|Finally, a Taco Tuesday success. Fish Tacos with mango salsa and cabbage slaw.|
|I, finally, bought a real camera and for the first time Belle's sweet face showed up in a picture.|
|Forcing bulbs and feeling a breeze on a rare warm February night.|
|Orchids and sunshine and Belle's chair pushed right up the window, just how she likes it.|
|Ina's onion soup that can heal the world in one bite.|