February 1, 2013
Imagine this: You are running along the road at dusk, your mind is elsewhere – in the future, in the past. Maybe you are in Africa, as the red sun takes a bow and the dust clouds of your footfalls rises in small silent puffs. Maybe you are running through vineyards in France, the pink-tinged sky and dinner calling the tractors home. Maybe you’re in Canada and the veneer of ice and slate gray sky had warned you to stay home. But you didn’t listen, because you are in the past, and in the future.
Wherever you are, you are not where you should be and that last look over your shoulder, that unseen dip, or rock, trips you up and you are flying like a long jumper in slow motion, into a gaping hole. Road works, a ditch, an excavation you hadn’t seen but which feels familiar.
You feel a searing fear and in your shock feel everything rushing to an end. Your heart hammers, your breath comes in winded rasps.
Then it happens: Life comes flooding back. You take stock. And this time you know it is important to acknowledge what has happened.
Last time you clambered out of that ditch and didn’t pay attention. Today you will learn the lessons of that dark, confined space. Learn the difference between physical limitations and spiritual bounds.
So here is the inventory: This hole is not so very deep and one of the sides is climbable. No-one is around to help pull you out but that is a good thing. You can take as much time as it takes.
You may be cold, you may be wet and muddy, but nothing appears to be broken. In truth you feel a small, slow flame flickering somewhere deep and safe.
You may have skinned your knees and your shin. Trace your finger around the white pink graze on your knee.
“Thank you knee, for breaking my fall.”
Look at your barked shin. Feel the pain of the unaccustomed exposure of flesh to air, the ruched skin that will soon shrivel and die.
“Thank you shin, for giving me physical pain I can understand, something to pull me into the present.”
Now make a plan. Dark is descending. Clamber out of that hole. You feel strangely energized. Something upsetting has happened but the world has presented you with a concrete set of circumstances, right here, right now, to navigate.
Feel the blood coursing through your veins, your breath flowing in and out. Feel the wet mud on your skin and be in the moment. Feel your human condition.
Now make your way home and feel your limbs loosening up and the strength of your sinews.
Open your front door and inhale the scent of your life. Pick up the school bags and hang them up Straighten the small boots flung haphazardly and be thankful for the feet that wear them.
Now strip in the bathroom and examine your body for bruises. Turn this way and that. You see, it is not so bad.
Step into the shower and feel the healing water flow through your hair, rivulets of warmth running over your temples, whispering kind words.
Carefully wash your superficial wounds. Now step out of the shower and dry yourself. Pat yourself down, steam still rising off your skin. Now put on a soft bathrobe and your most faithful slippers and start to turn outwards. Don’t be afraid. Unfurl.
Make a cup of perfect tea and make a mental list of blessings. People you love, small pleasures. Feel the ache in your chest and thank it.
“Thank you Ache in my chest. It is ok. You can nestle there next to my heart. I will take care of you.”
And now that you have honoured your pain, made it as comfortable as can be, go out into the world. Into the present. Be of Service. Be Kind. Listen with your Heart. Use your hands for Good. For Healing. For coaxing Life into the world. For stroking. For writing.
Use your arms for hugging, for holding close, for defending. Use your legs for taking purposeful steps forward. And when that scar on your shin is nothing but a silver line, trace it sometimes with your finger to thank the pain that has helped you. And let that dull ache in your chest be a constant reminder of the gift of Love.