I love these August mornings when the breeze washes across the landscape after a nighttime temperature drop of 30 or 40 degrees. The rising sun warms the air and in the yellow light the tiny leaves of the locust tree outside my living room window are singularly defined as the branches toss and wave. I am lightly brushed as I sit and write by the air moving from the kitchen through the house. It is a balm that creates a peaceful heart.
I watched a very good movie yesterday, one that hasn’t had much push in the ads one sees and hears for every new blockbuster here in Heartland America. It was visually beautiful as well as emotionally touching. “The Intouchables,” based on a true story, was about the evolution of a remarkable relationship between a fabulously rich and privileged Parisian quadriplegic man, and an exceptional Somalian caretaker who comes into his life. Their wildly divergent worlds mix in remarkably transformative ways.
I bring up the breezes and the movie because, to me, these are evidence of The Divine in my life. The last couple of days have been full of some stress and worry on my part, yet I am working on my spirituality and my faith, trying to find that inner stillness from which I find the strength and inner peace to take life as it comes. I am being shown that even though things might appear one way on the outside, very often deep and subtle healings are possible on the inside.
I had lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a while a few days ago. She might appear unremarkable if you pick apart her world by the superficial standards of employment or education, yet to me she offers a profound insight into the deepest of experiences that most of us ever have to face.
She is a cancer survivor, never allowing who she was to be defined by the disease or its treatment. She has had to bury not just one, but two sons. A third hovers on the edge of life and death today. Though her energy was heavy on the day I sat with her, we still found things to laugh about, a lightness came from just spending a couple of hours together outside our usual routines. She finds God on the golf course, she tells me with a smile. “Maybe when golf season winds down you’ll see more of me around town,” she quips. The time together seems to have helped both of us. She keeps me in the moment, remembering the manageability of what is, today. A simple shift in perception can change my world.
I have been feeling resentful that now that I finally feel as if I can manage my life and my feelings and the work I want to do, it may be time to sell my house. It is an expensive luxury that I have hidden myself away in, first with my son, then with my daughter, as the time ticked by in my recovery from my divorce. Now both kids are gone, and I live here with only my little dog.
Truth be told, I have tired of the simple tasks of home-ownership. I bought this house because the upkeep would be minimal, but now I am tired of even this. The hot, dry, summer made the weeds grow much more insistently up between the rocks in the gravel beds and in lieu of poisoning everything, I spent hours on my hands and knees pulling those suckers out. Twelve gallons of deck stain later, I’ve primed my wooden fence for another year in the interest of keeping my dogs at home and not wandering the neighborhood. My garage and basement loom now, full of unnecessary stuff I have accumulated in the four years I have lived here.
My neighbor reaches over the fence with his good arm and hands me an insert for a broken sprinkler head I am trying to fix. He watches me for a minute and then tells me I ought to try that with one arm. He has lost his right arm. His wife died unexpectedly not that long ago, he told me when he first moved in. He was homeless for a year. Now he and his son live in a nice house. Though often I find his attention wearing, I try to be patient. I think I have much to learn if I will only listen.
Just dragging the garbage bin to the curb on trash day can be a production when you only have one arm. Life seems to be full of many lessons these days. All of them are about how to get by, dealing with whatever you have to deal with. I am trying to be open-minded and find that actually, the best way to be is open-hearted. Life is so much more engaging that way.