“I worried a lot…Will the garden grow? Will the rivers flow in the right direction? Will the earth turn as it was taught; and if not how shall I correct it? Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning and sang.” (By Mary Oliver: “I worried”)
With apologies to Mary Oliver, I am going to borrow her cadence and rhythm to write a lament for my brain, 9 weeks into post concussion syndrome.
I worried a lot. Will my brain heal? Will the words come? Will the thoughts flow freely in the right direction? Will my mind synapse as it was taught; and if not, how shall I be me? Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing and was making my brain symptoms worse. And took my old body and went out into the morning. And walked.
Author’s note: I couldn’t write “and gave it up”. I might do it again yet. 😏
The words of the Psalms roll off the tongue, the agony of the words lost in the cadence of the old English.
People say my blogs inspire them. Maybe the agony of the words gets lost in the cadence.
Tonight is A time for lament.
A lament for pain. I have lived with pain as a journey mate for much of my life, the legacy of rheumatoid disease.
Now I am wishing for pain. Two broken bones from an impact hard enough to collapse a part of my lung and I have no pain. I am in my ninth week and my arm feels like it is not part of me. I can feel pressure now if someone pinches a finger or drop something on my arm. But the pain is missing.
I lived with a parent who made pain go away. The cost of that becomes higher and higher. One of the takeaways from being a child in that chaos is that I don’t push down my pain, maybe even when it would be a choice.
Without pain, how do I trust my body. The first lesson in my trust your body curriculum is “your body talks to you.” If the body isn’t talking, how are the next lessons true? “You can listen to your body” and “your body tells the truth ” are hard to follow without the messages to guide.
Somehow without pain to guide me in how to use my arm I feel lost. Not because I am masochistic and wish for pain, but because I can’t hear my body talking to me. And without the ability to read those signals, I feel cut off from the essence of who I am. I have lost a sense of trust.
I said I wish for pain and someone said to be careful what I wish for. But I think they have never felt the sensation of not feeling. It is eerie at best, terrifying at worst.
So in this Lenten time I mourn for the pain that is not there.
Grief upon grief.
Today I have a sense that I am supposed to notice that all that I need is provided. There have been three times today that I have been confronted with the fact that I am not in charge.
Money for rent for the community house, a ride for the children after I called everyone I could imagine, dinner that came unasked to my door, help that is coming during chess nationals.
I was so discouraged on Sunday. I cried a lot of tears, holding my arm just so and trying not to move my head. (It sort of takes the fun out of crying!). I am not out of the house unless I go to a doctor or acupuncture, so it can be days at a stretch. And if I try to go out of the house, generally the brightness of the sun or fluorescent lights or the noise set off the concussion symptoms. The Birth community has been incredible in surrounding me with an outpouring of love. But I was feeling isolated nonetheless. And into that space, the lies come.
As I was taking my morning walk this morning before the sun was over the horizon, some phrases begin to March through my mind to the cadence of my footsteps. “All I have needed by hand has provided “. “Manna for today.” “This moment… ”
That is what I have, this moment. Actually, that is all any of us have. This moment, today.
The uses of sorrow
By Mary Oliver
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.
What is the box you were given?
Is it tattered or shiny designer? Shaped round like a grand mother’s hat box? What does it smell like: moth balls, or the faint scent of rose water? Are their tastes in the box, flavors of family holiday meals?
Have you peeked inside?
I peeked, nearly 18 years ago. The lid lifted with a crazy prayer: “I want to know.”
It never fit back on again. I am still unpacking it. But I wouldn’t trade the knowing for all the perfect p.k.’s (preacher’s kids) in the world.
People give things up for Lent, or so I hear. Maybe this year for Lent you might climb the ladder of your heart and bring down a box or two.
Valentine’s Day is so wrapped up in a package of expectation
tied with a bow that is supposed to be “just so”.
Even as I type that last word some computer glitch makes it space wrong. So I type it 20 times, but the irony is lost on me that I’m trying to get it perfect, the words “just so “.
So how do I bless you with the phrase “be kind to yourself ” when I come from a long line of perfectionists?
I have been listening lately to the phrase, “you have no idea how hard it is to be an 11-year-old girl.” The reality is, 11 still lives in me; as does 20, and 23. But my 11 was different from yours; just like your 49 wil look different from mine.
I heard this song yesterday from a daddy to a daughter. It reminded me of all the Valentines dates that daddy had with you. He wanted you to know that you’re special. Maybe this time it is for me too, my Father blessing.
A Valentines gift to you and me to “be kind to yourself” in the middle of the package of beauty and pain that is called love.
Andrew Peterson: Be Kind to Yourself
“I might never have asked what could be but for sorrow.
I might never have opened to the terrible vulnerability of love but for tears.
I might never have begun this treacherous path to God but for emptiness. “
By Rob Suarez
(Lenten Poetry Conpanion)
This poem is one which we read in the Mystic Activists yesterday (which I attend by phone right now). It really turns it on its head doesn’t it?
Everyone wants a sense of vision…To be filled with love… To know God. But this path? This path is one we try to avoid it all costs. Sorrow? Tears? Emptiness?
The Long road to Lent has begun. It is a road not traveled in my Baptist upbringing. Or maybe I was too small to notice. I am in a long season of Lent this year. It will stretch from Advent to perhaps past Easter.
It is a time for listening. A time for grief. A time for stillness. A time for hope.
And may it be permeated with a sense of God’s presence, deep love, and bold glimpses of what is yet to come.
Lent is not the end of the story.
I got to be encircled by Midwives this weekend. It was good for the state of my soul.
I had so wanted to hear the teaching of Sister MorningStar and Gail Hart at our state conference. It seemed impossible, as the realities of healing my broken bones and the concussion dominate each day.
“Come,” they messaged. And so one by one the details were thought through by my sisters. Someone drove me, another volunteered to take me home if needed. The fees had been covered “by angels in our midst”. When I entered the room I was greeted like royalty and escorted to a sofa covered with soft pillows. There was a dark room nearby if the stimulation was too much. The light was soft, natural. Midwives brought me tea and nourushing food.
And so I stayed, one hour at a time. I soaked in the love of my sisters, and the teaching of these wise elder midwives. We talked about intuition, how to follow our instincts. We learned about the latest in evidence-based research on topics that are current in obstetrics. We did a village prenatal with two pregnant mamas, weaving around them with song and love.
The music entered my soul as well. “All your cells are healthy and strong“. Good word medicine to balance all the dire predictions of the medical experts who offer their gifts. I realized, as I watched my sister Midwives Circle the women, that my life force is depleted too. And the magic of this space, so rich with oxytocin flowing, strengthened my heart.
We ended with a circle, held safe in a room womb by the presence of two Elder Midwives. We had some family business to take care of together. We dared to speak truth, asking for clarity of thought and healing for this holy work. The space was held safely. Midwives not present were held with honor and respect. I realized anew how much I need these courageous women around me.
If the future of birth lies with Midwives, it is in good hands indeed.
“Let peace on Earth begin with birth”.
I have caught myself saying that lately, as I live full on, this season of my life.
“you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,”
In the Mystic Activists this week at neighborhood (neighborhoodministries.org) we sat with the writings of Denise Levertov. Last semester, this poem of hers helped push me out of the nest, to begin to try my fledgling writing wings.
by Denise Levertov
Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.
I wonder what Lent holds this year, as the fledgling Lenten writings that tapped their way out of the egg in 2015 try their wings.
Creativity flows from people all around me, scattered through days. It binds the narratives of the years of our stories together.
It’s curious how people draw together in times of crisis. One brings soup, another bowties for a dance, someone drops puzzles by… There are bills paid and groceries bought, floors mopped and laundry folded.
And folded into the clothes is love. I’ve had several people say lately, “I hope you know how much you’re loved.” It’s interesting that it’s hard to let that much goodness in.
Maybe that’s not my job.
And so, the love flows over and through, filling in the cracks. And I’m asked for nothing more than to stay in the moment. To let the goodness in requires a different kind of courage.
Provision for today, courage for today. And all the cracks and crevices between filled in with love.