Like a willowy tree with heavy, low hanging fruit – I was hooked up and laden with tubes in a hospital bed just a mere few weeks ago. Every drip and every bag contained something that my body needed and facilitated the repair and support for the surgery I had just had. I was tethered and wilted and grateful for the care!
The hospital experience is surreal – as anyone gone through it knows. The short time between being on a gurney, in a bed and then home was really fast even though it was twice as long as anticipated. And, now almost suddenly, a new chapter with unwritten text and dialogue sits in front of me.
Some of the what happens within this next chapter(s) will not be of my making – life offers many things without our prompting or will or even wants, and yet, some events and situations will stem from my intentional, and navigational push. Either and both ways what any of us does with what is both given or chosen, is the main event – no matter what the text, context, direction, intention or randomness is that is occurring. Awareness creates choice, choice allows kindness, kindness seeds compassion, compassion changes everything.
It’s been about 2 years since I could plan anything in the future, or even really think about it – my vision was about as far as the end of my nose. I adopted a ‘don’t know’ mind about everything and that in and of itself provided some ease with my reality. I was and still am genuinely curious about this ‘rubber hits the road’ time. How would 30 + years of spiritual practice, and over 150 silent retreats show up now?
My practices did show up and even surprised me. Not in a planned or calculating way, but as seamlessly part of my behavior and my responses, my cells and patterns.
Our shared human tendency to fill in blanks, solidify something that hasn’t happened, find a reason for everything, live as if life were a linearly planned out progression, is nothing I truly care about. Maybe this is inherited collective wisdom; maybe it’s a product of experience, I really can’t say. But the true recognition of the fragility and beauty and wildness of life’s ride is literally one second at a time, and the refuge in that, the refuge in this moment only is worth the entire struggle it took to arrive at it.
I hope I’m not being too heavy here, but I have to admit that the brightest part of what I’ve just gone through and this current period of recovery has been the incredible support that came pouring forward. I never expected, thought possible, or even dreamt about the amount of love, empathy, understanding, time and thoughtfulness that I’ve been gifted with in these past months. It has literally and metaphorically opened my heart.
My intention and hope is that I will return the profound generosity I’ve been afforded and triple it back out into the world. I was just asked to write about ‘the meaning of life’ – what a question! I think the aspect of giving back is part of what I’ll write about. Giving, giving back and receiving are foundational pillars in a meaningful, well-lived and well-loved life.
So thank you, from my repaired and even more open heart — to everyone that has made it possible for my life to continue and so very, very worth living.
Reading your article is a gift from the divine. I am the yoga teacher who just needed to leave the Spirit Rock retreat due to a back injury. Your student, Christina, stepped in with such grace to continue the yoga classes. I met her briefly yesterday morning and I knew immediately she would be perfect in her role. I struggled with making the decision to leave – such emotions and old stories clouded my perceptions. Reading your article is like opening a window and letting in a beautiful, cleansing breeze. I do know what it is like to be in the hospital in a serious situation and could resonate with so much of what you wrote.
What beauty and insight you have shared with us through your journey toward healing. You will be in my meditations every day – prayers and metta for ease through your healing process. I am so grateful for the insight and teachings you share so generously.
Anne Oliver (student/mentee of Janice Gates)
Dear Anne, thank you for this lovely note. I hope we might meet someday!
I can appreciate how it must have felt to leave the retreat, but in that you did, you were able t0 open a most wonderful door to Christine and therefore gave a gift she might not have received. So, thank you for taking care of your self and offering the opportunity to Christine as well.