It’s easy to have faith when all is going well, isn’t it?
The sun is shining. My day moves smoothly from coffee with a friend to reading or weeding in my yard…either is as good as the other… and then the trials come (this year it is health issues). Worry and concern move into gear.
What should I be doing? What if the doctor is wrong? Why am I not getting better? What should I be doing?
Around and around.
It isn’t so much concern over the prognosis. And it isn’t just the question of what path to follow toward wholeness, I get totally involved in micromanaging medical issues which are far beyond knowledge and expertise – no matter how much I listen to advice and read. It all raises an additional question of where to place my faith.
My meditation becomes rife with mind chatter. In some cases I can’t even get to the garden variety menu planning as I sit, visibly calm, invisibly on the high wire. I perserverate on what I will say, what I will do, what I should remember, and what is the worst-case scenario.
It’s always “worst case” in the middle of the night.
That’s why I loved a recent Super Soul Sunday interview between Oprah and Jon Kabat-Zinn*. It brought me back to mindfulness of what I have right now. I don’t know why I always need the reminder that this moment is all that I ever have, but I’m grateful each time I get the nudge.
His additional message was to trust those who I have engaged to take care of my health. Then I can use my energy to stay calm and do the best for myself without worrying about their process. I needed that!
I can have faith in the process of life and living each moment of it.
*A pioneer in the field of mindfulness for stress reduction and health benefits.
“Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” Pema Chodron
I am always out of control. Yet I cling to the illusion of a life that I can delineate. I set intentions. I make plans. And then life happens.
My younger daughter was seriously ill in the hospital after a few critical days of pneumonia and septic shock. She’s better now, and I can breathe.
And I have a reminder that I do not maintain order in my life although I am the beneficiary of it at times. I can plan, I can organize, I can get involved in daily routines that feel vitally important. I can consider myself indispensable and worry about everything from keeping appointments to putting healthy meals on the table.
Poof…it all disappears as I sit for hours in a hospital chair, mindless of what was compelling a few hours ago.
I no longer care if the leftover chicken rots and the clothes heap up in the laundry room. I skip my morning routines to make sure my daughter has a healthy smoothie when she wakes in the morning. My hair begins to stand on end and I look down to discover a spot on my jacket that a week before would have embarrassed me. Now I idly examine it, wondering what and when without much interest. Mirrors are not a reality for the moment.
It is another reminder to seek what is important in my life. Another reason to drop form and look for substance. A recognition that uncertainty is a way to practice acceptance. And that acceptance is letting go of control.
It’s hard to get at the root of fear. My sister and I have looked at it from all directions as her surgery time approaches. I reassure her with what our father told us; that if we are panicky, it is a false fear. If it is real, God gives us the grace to see anything through.
My sister and I are also blessed with a family “knowing” that assures us or warns us, according to the knowledge. Although I have no strong feelings about this surgery, my sister “knows” she will be fine. And she has trouble believing what she feels when the anxiety hits.
And so we examine the fear.
Fear of death.
Fear of change by stroke or other impairment as a result of the surgery.
Fear of how life can change in a split second.
The greatest fear is of destruction of faith. Not that our faith demands the outcome we seek. In our world, faith must carry the acceptance that we don’t always know what is the best outcome. There are times when our Higher Power has more answers than we have.
What is inconceivable for either of us is to contemplate the loss of our true compass. Our knowing. That if, in fact, my sister’s self-assurance is wrong, then her life has lost the inner direction that has guided her infallibly in the times when she paid attention.
I am feeling the despair in her fear. It is the bleak glimpse of chaos.
We must conquer fear and believe.