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It has taken me a week to be able to sit down and write this post, not completely sure that I am comfortable sharing such a raw moment in my life. However, to anyone who chooses to read this, I hope that you will draw some inspiration and comfort from my experience.
Last week I hit a spiritual low. Snake’s belly low. Crisis of faith low. Pitch dark, sobbing, not able to catch my breath low. Clutching a pillow to my chest as if it were a life vest low.
A few words from a text, that in my heart I knew were false, sent me in a downward spiral to a place so dark. A place I’ve only ever been once before, about a year ago.
For hours I sat on the floor, death grip on the pillow, paralyzed by fear and doubt, desperately counting my gratitude amidst audible sobs and pleas for help. Questioning what I’m missing, what I’m not seeing. Am I a fool? Who do I think I am? Doubts, doubts, doubts and more doubts. Fear at its ugliest. Asking… no, pleading really… for awareness and clarity. Just hit me over the head if you must! What the #*@& am I missing?
Sitting with such pain and fear is necessary, according to Buddhist practice, for pain and fear are our teachers. And so I sat….and sat….and sat, clinging to what minute ember of faith I could feel, until I was at least able to begin to breathe normally again.
While clarity and strength took days to resurface, I managed to pull myself together to run a necessary errand. If I could have put it off a day, believe me I would have. But it was meant for me to do that day, and at that specific moment, no matter the emotional wreck I was at the time.
Still red-eyed from crying, and disheveled, I drove down the road toward my destination, and in the perfect timing that is Universe, I looked up into the trees along the side of the road and saw my spirit animal. A Red-Tailed Hawk.
- Digression – These hawks are very prevalent in my area, however, I never noticed them with any level of awareness until after my mother died, nearly 11 years now. Since then, I am aware of their presence and see them when I am in most need of reassurance and comfort. Just the day before I had seen three! The first was on my way to a meeting and two more on the way home from the meeting! Needless to say, it was a great meeting. Sometimes their presence is a surprise beacon, like just yesterday, and then I know that I am on the correct path.
Once home, I spent the remainder of the day perilously reaffirming my blessings, meditating, and focusing on my breathing, struggling to remain only in the present moment, mantras running through my mind, as if on auto-pilot.
Feeling completely shattered, fiercely wanting to retreat into hermit mode, I was mulling over canceling my training for the week. However, when morning dawned, I decided it might be beneficial to go and throw some heavy weight around. I did and it was exactly what I needed, add in some poignant therapy from the best trainer in the world!
More clarity came from sharing my breakdown with her, perilously keeping the tears at bay as best I could. At the end of our session, she summed up part of the crisis by revealing that I have not yet received any fruit from my arduous toil along this journey. That, and my spiritual fruit was less than fresh!
Aha, yes, I need a piece of fruit! Any piece of fruit. Even if it’s just a blueberry! A cherry! A raspberry! Could you please just throw me a piece of fruit! While I am waiting on the watermelon (I know to expect miracles) 😉 I am starving for any piece of fruit to sustain me until the harvest.
And now a week later, I am stronger in faith, yet still expecting a watermelon but asking for a blueberry, cherry, or raspberry while enlightened enough to know that another crisis is inevitable. For each crisis is necessary to break down the ego a little more in order to strengthen our spiritual connection.
This I must do alone. I retreat into the darkness. I sit with the pain and the fear. I beg, plead, scream, and cry until exhausted, when finally silence then speaks its truth. Expect the watermelon, but here’s a blueberry for now.
A friend with whom I shared this experience asked why I hadn’t called her, or anyone. My answer is simply that I must sit with this alone. It is my journey. My path. My growth. My test. My awakening.
We all will experience times like this in our lives, but we must not expect, nor allow, someone to rescue us from it. They are incapable and it isn’t their responsibility. Some may benefit from comfort from a friend, and that is fine. But we all must push through the darkness and emerge on our own efforts, spiritually stronger than before.
Expect the watermelon but be grateful for the blueberry, cherry, or raspberry to sustain you until harvest.
Not just a “good match” but a “Perfect” match.
Anytime I am able to be in nature and contemplatively engage with her is a perfect day. Whether at the beach, or in the woods, or sending a crag, I am one happy Zenbaby!
Once again a young life leaves this Earth too soon.
Talents and gifts uniquely bestowed, now forever gone.
Love and admiration poured out on ears now deaf.
Do we share this love when ears still hear, when hearts are beating and open to receiving?
If no, then we must surely begin!
If yes, why isn’t it enough?
If yes, why are ears still deaf? The heart still closed? The soul still famished?
If yes, why do they their precious life extinguish? They their flame snuff out?
What are we missing?
What do we not see? Not hear?
What are we ignoring?
What are we afraid to ask? Afraid to hear?
Are we unprepared to answer?
Where do we begin?
What changes must we make?
Do we even care of the stranger’s life, now lost?
Vanished potential. Vanished passion. Vanished Solutions. Vanished gifts and talents.
Do we feel a deep remorse for the loss of a stranger, especially young, now forever gone?
Deep compassion must begin in us each!
For we are each a rare thread in the beautiful tapestry. A unique character in the awe-inspiring play. A particular instrument in the magnificent symphony.
Remove a thread, the tapestry is weakened
Remove a character, the play is incomplete
Remove an instrument, the symphony is off key
The masterpiece suffers, noticed only by the most attuned, yet all infinitely impacted.
Compassion, Connectedness, Vibrations of Love, may not be enough
Nonetheless, we must engage, for to not is surely death
The leaves in my area have been slow to turn, and the colors not all as vivid this autumn due to a lack of rain. We are in a drought. Not a severe drought, but a drought nonetheless. When I heard this from my trainer, several weeks ago, something clicked within me.
Drought. A lack of water, of sustenance, of cleansing. Drought. Physical, emotional, spiritual. That is how I have been feeling. Spiritually in a drought. In need of an emotional and spiritual storm to clear out and cleanse. Wash away the dirt, the grime, the pain, the sadness. Clear away the clouds.
It has taken me a few weeks to write on this. Last week’s storm derailed me.
Several weeks ago I committed to attending a beach retreat scheduled for last weekend. I was so excited to be going to the beach. It had been almost two decades since I had buried my feet in the sand, listened to the waves crashing on the shore, felt the cold water splash my legs, rinse my feet.
I was so excited. 20 years since I felt the pull of the water raking the sand from under my feet; jostling my steadiness, sinking me deeper into the shore. It seemed to be just what I needed to correct my drought. A good cry on the beach to jar loose the dirt, the grime, dead debris. I was so ready for this trip. Heading into the weekend with a loose plan, but open to what experiences would come to me.
Alas, a storm came a few days before leaving for the beach. I almost backed out of the trip. Nevertheless, I went. Heavy hearted and wanting so desperately for my internal storm to rage up and vent upon first sight of the mighty waves crashing upon the shore. It didn’t. Maybe tomorrow, I hoped.
The weekend weather was summer’s final appearance; sunny, 70-80 degrees. I was happy. I felt peaceful. I posted photos, sharing my contented moments via social media. I met new people.
I allowed myself to open up a bit yet never manifesting the internal storm continuing to churn within me. I tried so fervently to bring it to a head in my solitude, as I stood in the sand, waves lapping my legs. Epic fail. No tears. No sobbing. No rain. Just endless waves rhythmically bathing the shore.
Feelings of peace, of bliss, of gratitude immersing my soul. Yet deep down, the storm churned, precluding eruption, denying the purge. Nourishing further my drought, or so I thought.
I felt guilty. Allowing myself to have fun, to be happy; yet remaining aware of the storm within me; the storm taking place 150 miles back home. I felt torn. Sending comforting and consoling texts back home, amidst posting happy photos on Facebook. Grateful for the opportunity to fill my soul, realign with the rhythms of the ocean, yet conscious of the grief harboring in my soul, conscious of those languishing back home.
For two days, I embraced the healing spirit of the tides; cuddled in the arms of Rehoboth’s quaintness, snuggled in my solitude, and acquiesced to the cessation of my drought; albeit not in the expression I preferred.
I wanted a tempest, a mighty monsoon, a deluge, a ravaging hurricane of tears. Instead, my drought doused with summer warmth, sun-filled heavens, cool sea breezes, and refreshing ocean tides.
Home a week now, the churning storm has subsided; blown out to sea no doubt. My drought is waning with each word I write, each post I share, and each visit with the ones I hold dear. My gratitude is stronger. My blessings are more vivid. Faith and belief are ever growing clearer.
The torrential downpour that never manifested may rear up later down the road. For now, my soul, nourished by the ocean, not entirely sated, but no longer parched, can begin once again to flow, maybe not as mighty waves in an ocean, but at least as a few ripples in a pond.
Last week, a storm hit, by way of a phone call. A destructive storm. A storm so unexpected, I never saw it coming. I was totally unprepared. A storm so forceful, it uprooted deep internal mire. Churning up the darkest, deepest emotions of pain, choices, consequences, life, and death. Churning up unfairness. Churning up loss. Churning up survivors’ guilt. Churning up helplessness. Churning up the inevitable “why” questions that never yield meaningful answers because there just aren’t any.
Churning up anger, first at the ethereal energy or being with which one recognizes and identifies. Anger misdirected because we cannot bear to direct it accurately. Why did you allow this? Why didn’t you prevent this? Why…? Why…? Why…?
Anger at ourselves, also misdirected because we cannot bear to lay it at the appropriate feet. At the feet of the one who left us with consequences for which we did not ask. “I should have…” “I could have…”
Laying the anger at the right feet may come, maybe soon, maybe never, hopefully later. Later; when strength and insight, compassion and love allow us to see that it isn’t really anger that we feel; but a deep and painful sadness for what could have been had choices been different. Sadness, deep sadness, for discerning what “free will” unconditionally means; for understanding how “free will” can manifest in others.
How can I console and comfort them when I am crying; aching in sadness at yet another loss. In pain, having gone through this before. In pain, watching them go through this for the first time. In pain, knowing that it may not be the last time. In pain, just wanting the madness that continues to stop. STOP! Please STOP! Damn it, STOP!
Enough loss. Enough death. Enough goodbyes. ENOUGH! Enough souls being removed from this Earth before ever fully gifting their talent. Enough of the Russian Roulette. Enough of the denial. Enough of the “it won’t be me.” This time it was. Enough of the silence. Enough of the pretending it isn’t my responsibility. Enough of the stigmas. ENOUGH! Damn it, ENOUGH!
Why couldn’t he be one of the lucky ones? Why couldn’t he have gotten a second chance? Why couldn’t someone have been there for him, like it was for me? Why…? Why…? Why…? No answers. Only pain. No answers. Only sorrow. No answers. Just “if only’s.” If only I had… If only he had… If only someone had… If only it had… If only we had…
Family, friends, co-workers, bosses, teachers, classmates, administrators, medical professionals, social workers, friends of friends, family of friends, strangers, everyone, anyone, someone, but never no one…all thinking the same thoughts, asking the same unanswerable questions, positing the same if only’s… Such a wide net tragedy’s pain casts with its ripples.
What words do I have to console them as we cry together? I can only muster, “I am so sorry that you are going through this.” I whisper, “There are no answers to your questions.” I choke as I say, “I know how painful this is for you” “My heart aches for you.” “I would take this pain from you if I could” All else I think of to say just doesn’t seem appropriate for the time. Maybe later. Weeks later. Months later. Maybe never.
So I remain silent, listening to them cry while wiping away my tears, and then softly saying, “Lean on your friends, you all need each other.” “Lean on those in the rooms; many have been through this at least once already.” “Lean on your family; we have been through this before.” “I am here for you.” “You are on my heart.” “I am thinking of you.” “I love you.” Whispering as we hug, “This madness needs to stop.”
Second chances were there. Second chances different than yours, but they were there. Second chances. Third chances. Many chances; just ignored. In there lies the pain, the tragedy. An invitation to grab your hand and come aboard….rejected. And so it is with invitations, opportunities, chances, gifts. We can extend them but it is not our place to force their acceptance onto others. Just as we are free to choose when to give, we are also free to choose when to receive.
Free will is a blessing as much as it is a curse. A life lesson you are so young to have to learn. A life lesson you are now so much stronger for having experienced so soon. The “Why’s” and “If only’s” will fade in time as you work through the storm of pain and emotions. In your own time, the clouds will clear; you will see the rainbow, remember the joy, and feel only the love you know as EC; your triplet, your brother, your friend.