Tired. Oh, so tired.
The red spiral-bound tracker notebook mocks me from the table. Or the empty space on the chart for today does. I ignore it, but my pencil itches to check off the space. This wonder of organization, a gift from the cancer center, has become my life. People like me, compulsive about notebooks and check lists, should give off warning vibes so fine institutions with good intentions hide trackers when we come in. I will never know if they did me a favor handing me: "Support for your Journey: Planner & Guide 2009" Every day I check off body functions, medications taken, symptoms felt, doctor appointments kept. It's become my new work, each day's accomplishment signing, checking off, taking, keeping appointments.
It's 11am and an unchecked square glares from the notebook. My turning-to-stone insides remind me this empty space needs my attention. I'm just too tired to care and keep reading my book, The Life of Pi. Pi is shipwrecked, on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal Tiger. Starving, eating nothing but turtles and fish, Pi's insides have problems. Both tiger and boy only ingest protein and water, only eliminate once a month. It's a painful ordeal. Their bloated insides distract me from my own. The effort just to be positive is tiring, to allow mind to partner body, by saying crazy things like, "I flow with life. My body is wonderfully made. The bread of life flows easily within me and through me." I know power exists in this moment, the task being asked of me. I can't move yesterday's check to today; it's pointless to chant "tomorrow I will flow with life." My body is easily fooled and will wait for my mind to catch up. So, the time for effort is now. In my exhaustion, I continue ignoring wisdom.
Hungry. Insanely hungry.
Hunger distracts me easier than attending to my discomforting innards. I shudder imagining putting anything down my sand-papered throat; yet the hunger drives me. In the kitchen I chop cabbage for roasting. Teo, my daughter's Toy Fox Terrier puppy, stands below the chopping board, shivering, stick legs holding up his droopy head, whimpering body. He doesn't like the sounds of knives and juicers in my kitchen. Tired as I am, the knife barely taps the board. What could he possibly be hearing, sensing? Teo, like all animals, is completely one with his body, his environment, his community. He knows a primordial, intuitive language, one I also know well when I'm open and free rather than closed down wanting only rational, analytical thinking. Being present every moment, to Spirit, to body, to mind, to community, is a challenge on normal days. On days when the body is yelling from chemo, from recovery, remaining open and aware is like climbing a never ending mountain range, not a day's hike with an exhilarating view at the top. I want dullness; want to pretend I’m resting at the summit! I desperately want Teo to stop communicating so I can retreat into oblivion. And, I'm desperately afraid he will.
"Okay, dear ones," I say to my heavy feet. "Up the stairs to the big white bowl we go. All life takes some effort." I put the cabbage in the oven, move towards the upstairs door, passing the stash of laxatives on the counter. Ah, it would be so easy! Ignore, medicate, force. How low have I sunk? Temptation in a blue bottle?
Your body is sacred.
The words come somewhere deep. Next moment is awed, holy. There is nothing lowly here; all life is beautiful, all efforts sacred. Body rhythms, awareness, supplements, medications, prayer, massage, surgery, acupuncture, gardening, contracting, plowing, teaching - all are beautiful, sacred, reverent, holy! My body is wonderfully made, a gorgeous temple that cradles my free spirit, my spirit one with Spirit. The Creator of stars and galaxies and ecosystems is delighted when I honor my own universe, my body ecosystem. There is a time for wonder in the cosmos, for fellowship in community, just as there is time for wonder and encouragement of my own small world.
Drawn to Love. Drawn, drawn...
Hunger satisfied, space checked off, there is nothing left but sleepy desire, a drawing toward gratefulness. I want to pray, meditate, center. I stand by my rocking chair facing east, looking out on bird bath, barn, blue sky. I'm so tired. My eyes stray to the sofa in the next room. Sleep, sleep, yet, I'm drawn to awareness, being still.
I will pray you, beloved.
I smile, knowing the voice. I creep to the sofa, sink down. Gathering prayer shawl and afghan around me, my head rolls onto a fluffy pillow as my silky hat scarf flows down my face; I drift in and out of deep relaxation, listening to a guided imagery CD. My weary body is comforted, guided by gentle voices. And angel of God is coming to be with me, says the recorded voice. As usual, Em comes instead. Em, Emmanuel, God with us. Em as a fragrant breeze, a red bird, a hint of hope, a bald black man, courage, the tree I lean upon, the purring chest of a big cat, love, a lily, a child taking my hand, the scent of lavender, an Asian women with jet black hair, healing, a smooth stone polished by rolling waters, a warm pond in which I float. As I drift on a sea of comfort, prayer shawl, hat, scarf, enfolds me, becomes Em's hair. Even when bald, or feathered, or round as a stone, Em has hair. Hair, smelling of earth and sky, beach and wood, sunshine, allspice and fire, whispers, leather, donkeys and dogs, myrrh, melodies, hammers and hymns, basil, shells and roses, bare feet, wild grasses, stars, moon and apple pie. Suddenly, all is still, quiet. I'm unaware of blanket or pillow, thought or scent. I'm suspended in being. In Being. Nothing exists but exquisite joy.
I am prayed by the Beloved.
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"To hear God's Voice is an act of courage. It is a willingness to hear what you do not know,and a willingness to know what you already are." Voice for Love website
"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be true peace." Sufi Wisdom
"In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when sleep falls on mortals,
while they slumber on their beds,
then God opens their ears." Job 33:15-16