And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
Yes it is. Dealing with my fibromyalgia for the past 12-18 months has taken so much of my attention and time that I feel I have stopped paying attention to my spiritual path. I had stepped back from my responsibilities as a leader for my group to have a spiritual retreat, a time of in-looking and thoughtful pursuit of my own spiritual needs and ideas. I was supposed to be on a journey for my soul…and instead, it’s been a journey of pain and doctor visits. I’ve seen my physician more in the past 18 months than I’ve seen a doctor the rest of my life, including 3 pregnancies. It’s hard to focus on anything else except the body when the body is not healthy.
As I think back over the time, I find moments both small and large where I was able to live a sacred life even with fibro. The big ones: Paul and I helped a friend out of an abusive marriage, held her hand and were there as friends as she started a new life with her teenage daughter. He and I also helped to give a co-worker, also an abused (now ex) wife and her children a Christmas to remember with the assistance of his parents and sister. It wasn’t about the presents, it was the fact that there were any at all for them, and in a setting of love and family togetherness. When the cost of a bra is a major household expenditure, even dollar store gifts are awesome. And when they are GIFTS, not the things you “need” because you’re managing that, but purely luxury items that you couldn’t afford….well, the rest of us didn’t need the presents we got. The joy of their holiday was gift enough.
The “small” moments aren’t small, really…just the opportunities for them are so much greater than the “large” that I divide them into these groups. My small moments of sacred life? Looking into the eyes of my 2 month old grandson for the first time. Spending the day with my daughter, doing nothing momentous but sharing a deeply satisfying day together. Being able to reach out and hug my husband and have him hug me back. (And with the new meds, it no longer hurts! – which I had put up with in order to hold him. Worth the price of the pain.) Seeing my son holding his son and the love that shines like a fire between them. Watching the sunset and as always in awe of the fact that even if no one ever looked, that glorious display would occur every day anyhow. Enjoying the far vista of smoky mountains and the gentle ripple of countryside on a car drive. Sharing a bite of a good meal with someone I love.
Even through all of the health issues (his and mine), we have managed to continue to do the ministry together that we had been doing separately: the willing ear to listen to the troubles of a wounded soul; the (hopefully) wise words to help someone find their way; letting all those who need a quiet space to just breathe into our home without question. But my capacity for this sacred work has been at an all time low and sometimes, I’ve only been able to just sit and hold their hand.
And now that I am properly medicated and my endurance is returning, I find myself turning more and more back to those spiritual things I wanted to explore. The fact that I can write this blog is a major accomplishment compared to the writing I wanted to do, that got lost in days of inability to type, my mental fog so pervasive that major chunks of time are missing. And yet I cannot regret that time. As I said in “The Zen of Fibromyalgia”, I was given time to sit still and know that I am sacred. To learn to identify the parts of the body in a new way, to have forced limitations so that I learned to be more thoughtful about my actions, to plan my activity with the knowledge that I must do it in a way that did not waste my ability to do it. To learn that just sitting, sitting as the Buddha sat, can be sacred action and spiritual learning.
As a Buddhist, it is my goal to live each moment and not only that, but to recognize and honor the sacred within each moment as I experience it. To then let go of the moment and accept the next in its turn. I try to always seek the sacred in all that I encounter (which is a fine ambition, but like I said, I TRY) and to honor the sacred wherever I find it. I’m human. I get angry, I get bitchy, I can be unpleasant. I fail, time after time. And yet I also let go of *those* moments as well, to try and not let the residual emotions and negativity linger into the next moment, to stop the ripple effect. Or to let the ripple move past me, and like Frank Herbert’s (Dune) “Litany Against Fear”, I let it go over and through me and when it has gone past me, I will turn and look and only I will remain.
(Inserted note regarding that literary allusion. The litany reads as follows:
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
This will find its way into a new blog about fear at some time in the future. I can feel it congealing as thought that will desire written expression eventually. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. Sorry for the interruption.)
Where was I? Oh yes. Living in the moment. Finding the sacred in each moment. Letting go of bad things (internal and external). Trying to understand why I have had to go through what I have been going through and trying to find that sacred purpose in all of this being sick stuff. And listening to Louis Armstrong singing about what a wonderful world, the words I’ve used as my title really stuck out. I have always liked them, but they really hit home today. The bright, blessed day. The time when I was up and around, able to minister, able to live a “normal” life, do the things I wanted to do. The dark, sacred night. This is the time I have been living in. In the dark, when the activities are not so visible, they are even (gasp) occult! (Which only means “hidden”, really…nothing more). In the night, which is a time for rest. I needed to step back and take a breather from my ministry, needed the “sleep” from doing to find recuperation for my own sacred spaces. To rejuvenate and replace that spiritual energy. To dream, without a defined ending, of what might be and what I could do. To be literally “in the dark” about where I was going, what I was doing. Certainly seems that way.
And since everything is a circle and all cycles come back around to their starting point, I once again am having the dawning of another bright, blessed day.
Namaste, and a bright, BLESSED day to you as well.