It is essential, more than that, it is necessary, if you are to be vigilant about self care, especially with a basket full of mental health diagnoses that you must needs carefully monitor, to look for grace in every moment, it’s what sees you through, what steadies your course when you find yourself in utter darkness.
Early on in my years just past leaving my marriage I was profoundly depressed, suicidal, I could see no way in the world that I could go on, but with an incredible doctor, carefully prescribed and monitored medications, and God all around me even when I could not feel his presence, I came to realize that my life was not going to be one of easy days and breezing through life (Does anybody really do that?) but that if I carefully focused my energy, if I lived mindfully, moment by moment, if I lived in a state of near continual prayer, I could find my way through each day. What made this possible was opening my eyes to the fact that grace is everywhere for those who will live with an open heart, and that, truly, is a warrior stance. I will repeat a quote that I shared here the other day which is the basis of all of my writing, teaching, and work that I do in the world, the words of Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche…
“We must continue to open in the fact of tremendous opposition. No one is encouraging us to be open and still we must peel away the layers of the heart.”
Living with an open heart is a radical act. It means that you will not shut down, or close your eyes, but stand naked in the face of everything that life brings to you and you will feel it all, you will let it permeate every cell of your body, you will take the experience in so deeply that it changes you in an alchemical sense when every moment changes straw into gold and your life is one of constantly stretching the boundaries of everything you have previously known and been, and at the same time moving through life moment by moment, step by step, breath by breath, this is the way one must live, with eyes wide open, standing toe to toe with what is before you, letting it flow into you and around you and over you and under you and as it passes through and on, standing very still, and silent, what remains is the glinting gold of grace, the moment just lived, and it is as fleeting as the fluttering wings of a hummingbird, it hovers for a second, and then it disappears.
It is essential to be fully alive and present in every moment to experience the living grace that is all around us, always, but which, if the spirit is dulled by things that deaden the senses by a mind that is years or days ahead or behind, will surely slip past and be lost. I choose this moment with the cutting edge of pain it sometimes brings, and the bliss that is joy that is surely present as well. One has to sign an agreement in one’s heart that they will stand up with it all, and then, and only then, are we given the gift of a kind of sight that escapes far too many. I want, so much, to ease the way for others to find this grace, in their own time, their own way. I want to provide a safe haven and a soft shelter where a dear one might lay down their burdens, find their breath again, a deep, full breath, learn to relax into whatever comes, and learn that they can survive anything, that they will not fall. I pray that I may discover a way. I pray every day. I pray ongoing through the hours.
When I chose to leave the world to live a life of solitude it was not a choice made lightly or all at once and it is not one that I would recommend to others unless they have very serious issues that make it impossible to live in the world and still fully embrace all of who they are and use the gifts that are theirs to share. I was sick, and sicker all the time, and near death, the death of the spirit, of hope, of the ability to see my way through another day, and as I started to retreat, more and more, I found that I could breathe again. The less I went out the better I felt, the more ease I experienced, and finally I made the decision, I would have to find a way to live and be in the world almost completely apart, physically, so that I could face the tremendous damage done to my body and spirit, it would take a lifetime to heal, and in the process what would be revealed to me would be the gifts that I had to share with others.
I could only feel it all, process it all, and come through the fiery inferno, the path of the Phoenix, crashing, burning, and rising again, over and over and over, if I were willing to work through endless layers that had built up over nearly six decades, and it was a daunting task, but, what was the alternative? Live in the world sick, a burden, emotionally, to myself and others, and limp along in life until the end dragging everyone I loved and cared about with me, or learn to live apart and go fathoms deep to where it all began and work my way through the darkness toward the light. I chose the latter, and it has been painful, and glorious, and necessary. There is no other life possible for me. In my own way I have taken the veil and chosen to live a cloistered life with the animals, and in the garden, and in constant study, prayer, and meditation so that I could come to a place where I could honor God by touching down on the divine inside of me, that is inside each of us, the place where our purpose is hidden, and come through it in a way that, as I began to surface, here, from my place of solitude, I would devote the rest of my life to teaching, loving, and with great care tending the souls who found their way to me. That’s what this blog is, what all of my writing and work hope to do, to find the grace in every moment and help others do the same.
There have been moments of deep sorrow. I long for love like everyone else does. For passion, for the tender touch and a gentle kiss. I watch family and friends live active lives in the world, travel, and experience things I never will in this lifetime, and I smile and I feel joy knowing their happiness, and if, at times, there are moments tinged with sadness, and if, sometimes, the days seem almost too much to bear, I remember the moments of grace that I have collected in my prayer basket that is always with me, and I close my eyes and lift one to my cheek, tenderly, and I whisper Thank You, and sit in the silence. I move forward, always, and often, and many times a day, with a prayer of thanksgiving on my lips, and I continue on, doing my work, and feel blessed to be able to do so.
I have found my way to this place, it is where I belong, and I thank God for leading me here. I am tending grace, and now, once again, I bow my head in prayer…