I was talking with a
friend recently who was having what I assumed to be just a bad
day. As we talked, I tried to lift her
spirits and lighten her load with some laughter. I reminded her that whatever it was could be
worse. She could be like me: fat, crippled, and leaky. She simply said flatly, "It IS
worse. I just found out my kid has a
congenital heart defect." I was stunned into speechlessness. It sure beat
the hell out of out MY stuff.
Her son, who is nearly
a couple of years old, had just been diagnosed with Subaortic Stenosis a few
days before. Now, out of the blue, she and her family have been dropped into
alternate world where everyone’s kid has a life threatening illness. I can’t
help but think that my friend and her husband must feel as though have been
kicked out of the ordinary world they resided in before and are now citizens of
the Land of the Screwed.
They now must
live with the fact that their son has this defect that narrows the ventricle of
his heart and can severely impair the blood flow out of his heart. Treatment
depends on the cause and the severity of the narrowing. It can include drugs or
surgery. It amazes me that my friend, the mother- a talented, creative spirit,
accomplished writer, and highly successful, self-employed business woman can
still even dress herself, let alone stay so strong and tender.
Last week was a kind
of rough one. The flu and pneumonia are no fun and I started feeling like a
wired, tired toddler who had way too much sugar and not enough naptime. I
decided to have a chat with the Goddess, "You know what? I’m sure you know
what you’re doing”, I said accusingly, “but my patience is beginning to wear
REALLY fucking thin…" It took
awhile to get past the cacophony in my head to remember that all I needed to do
was to be kind and gentle and SILENT with myself.
Silence, I think,
comes from the same spot in the universe that gives birth to appreciation,
space and breath. Its magic can sometimes lull me into a state of meditation
instead of frustrating rumination and hand wringing.
So sitting there,
resting in the pristine stillness of silence, I again thought of my friend and
her family. I looked around and asked the Goddess, "What on earth are you
It then occurred to
me that I don’t know why life isn’t put together safely and seamlessly, why
stuff can fall so short of our expectations sometimes, why we can make such
dazzling mistakes, why our hearts get broken. I don’t know why it isn’t more
like it is in the movies, why lessons can’t be learned when you are in the mood
for learning, why circumstances don’t always turn out neatly, why grace often
comes in such garish, unsightly packaging.
Maybe I am not
supposed to know.
My friend has a tribe
of good friends around her, that all want to help in someway. So, I thought
maybe we all can build a sort of barn around my friend, her son and her family.
Even though we tribal members may not know one another personally, we can show
up and be there. We can listen to the tears and then make laughter. We can let
her know that she and her little family don’t have to carry this all by
themselves. We can give them a lot of
privacy and space.
We can stop trying to make things turn out
better than they are and we can offer the gift of no comfort when there being
no comfort is where she lands. We can let her dump when she needs to and we can
raise energy, send healing and love and pray for miracles. Not the kind where
the Powers That Be will reach down from the sky and restore her son to perfect
health but the little dusty red wagon kind of miracles of everyday life: love,
comfort, strength, forgiveness, and grace.
Grace is having
knowledge and an acceptance of being ineffective and it could be that thinking
otherwise is the major stumbling block to drinking from the clear, cool well of
clarity and love. I don’t understand the mystery of grace at all, not at all. I
know only that it seems to greet us where we are and rarely leaves us where it
found us. It can be received eagerly and gladly or cynically and begrudgingly
in little licks or giant gulps. It
doesn’t seem to matter. As long as you are willing to accept it, you are given
the gift of grace.
I believe that all
you can really do for someone in crisis is suit up and show up, when all is
said and done. It seems so inadequate
and impotent but when you do but it can radically change everything. By just being
there, standing in a scared friend or loved one’s line of vision can be life
giving because sometimes everyone else is hiding.
So you keep them
company when feels like the entire world is crumbling around them and just your
presence there says that even if it is for one tiny moment, that teeny portion of the world is better. It says that when the hard winds and cold
rains come, we will all come too because we will have been building grace
There will always be shelter because we will have built a barn out