If we are open to them, they can transform us deeply. An accident, an illness, a shock, a loss, a change.
There is a story of a spiritual teacher in India who had an Ashram -a spiritual retreat centre. A young man went to stay there, and as he watched the guru, he became more and more in awe of his shining presence, his kindness, his power to heal, daily miracles, his wisdom, and purity. One day, he asked the teacher, “Are you an Angel? Are you a god? What are you?”
In a gentle voice, the teacher said, “I am not a god. I am not an angel. I am awake.”
As I am passing through this journey of illness, I find I am awakening to new awareness. What is important and what is not? In this fresh chance at life, what will I let go of and what do I want to keep?
The letting go list has come of its own accord with little or no thinking on my part: guilt, especially over things I cannot control; pressure, since the only pressure I can feel is my own breath moving in and out; rushing, since I move at a snail’s pace in my recovery; and to my surprise, expectations of others or myself.
How can one cling to expectation of the future, when life is always hanging by a slender thread, particularly in elderhood?
It is much clearer to me who is in charge, and it is not me. I take what comes with gratitude for each hour of energy, each gift of fruit and friendship, each kindness my husband or friends offer. Gosh, what a stress-free life!
So I would add stress to the list of letting-go-ness. And now that my mind is starting to function normally, to actually form thoughts, I have thought about my new life after illness.
What really matters? Children, family, God, faith, friendship, service, orderliness, healthy meals, and in all its varied ways, beauty. When I’m up to it, I plan to play tourist - to take in once again the sound of waves breaking on the reef, walking the beach, swimming off pristine motus. I started beach-walking for a few minutes this week, and it was incredibly healing.
When life is in the balance, it gives a whole new meaning to “This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Don’t wait for a crisis to reconsider your life and your choices.
Pause and reflect, what matters most to you? What is truly precious?
Guard it tenderly and give it all your love.