Friday, April 1, 2011
April 1, 2011 ~ Day 113
Mysteries and Blessings
I've been running behind with these articles and need to catch up on three of them... but this morning I experienced something truly moving and it seemed like the right time to write a post "in the moment" expressing a visceral current response to events that just happened.
(That said, there is a nearly two year old girl hiding behind my laptop computer screen and giggling, so it may be the BEGINNING of a post that will be continued ;-) Some things, obviously, take priority.)
This morning my daughter and I went to our second meeting of the mothers' church group in our new neighborhood. Once again, I arrived feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, flustered - basically my typical morning - and left feeling completely balanced and blessed by the life I am lucky enough to live.
I'm not too good with names but I recognized many faces at this week's meeting and the topic of the devotional was very profound for me as a mother and a woman.
The woman who offered the devotional (a beautiful girl about my age) spoke movingly and eloquently about the childhood plans she had made for herself to be a doctor and the alternate plans that God had made for her (to be a teacher and a mother). Whether you believe in God or not... and usually I *do*, but not called as such... her story is something that many of us can all relate to: the way in which life often has plans for us that are greater than the ones that we have for ourselves.
Obviously since I am both a teacher and a mother, I resonated really strongly with the stories she shared from her personal experience. I think everyone in that room could connect in some way to what she was saying about the future we've dreamed of/ prayed for/ built a life around - and the surprise of what life actually offers us.
In the breakout session I shared about the many plans I have had for myself along the way that have turned out not to be part of a higher purpose for my life... my plans to be an international trade lawyer, plans to be a major magazine writer, plans to become a school director; and how they were all beautifully but painfully derailed by "real life" including motherhood and (lately) illness.
Some of the questions given to our breakout group for discussion included: "What are the wonderful things about where God sent you?" and "How have you changed the world?" which really gave me pause for thought, and I realized that in every single curve of my life path to throw me further away from the original plan, I have indeed been given important opportunities to help others.
I didn't become a lawyer or a writer, but I did become a specialty teacher and later, a middle school teacher, with the opportunity to help over a thousand students all told. And even if the main assistance I gave them was simply the sense that someone in the world truly believed in them and their potential - that may have been enough of a calling right there.
Then I reflected on my health challenges and the way that they may represent another calling to help others - my husband was just asking me last night if I would ever want to formalize my learning around that and become a naturopath or doctor of some kind. The short answer is no, definitely not.
However the longer answer is that I get the opportunity more often than I wish was necessary to help others, because I meet people all too frequently who suffer from debilitating arthritic or autoimmune diseases. I am happy that I have been able to at least share my learning with others about what has helped me... and also share with them research about a likely infectious basis to many autoimmune problems. I've been able to pass along contact information for physicians prepared to help patients get back to a normal life by treating the infections that provoke irregular immune response... and who actually heal rather than simply covering up symptoms.
Just today, a prayer request was offered up in our group for a mother at one table who is suffering from a debilitating bulging disc in her neck and I was so happy that I could share with her the name and contact information for my pilates therapist who has helped me so much recently with my own cervical disc problems. She suffers from a kind of spondylitis and while I didn't rush right out and say, "This could be infectious! You may also want to avoid starch!" which is what I have learned from folks on my board in remission from spondylitis... I was so happy that I could help her at all.
Every time I hear the prayer requests I remember powerfully how lucky I am to lead the life that I do, and that all people suffer and have pain. Sometimes I feel like my life is very turbulent and then I heard today about the mother whose teenage son is bipolar with autism, punching her in the face, and I realize how my own son's temper tantrums pale in comparison to this kind of challenge.
There was also a prayer request made for a first grade girl whose mother took her in to see the doctor to check out a bump on her arm recently and it turned out that she has a rare and aggressive kind of cancer. On Monday this little girl will be going in for a really large surgery and I am going to be praying with all of my heart throughout the weekend, perhaps most especially her mother, because there is simply NOTHING worse as a mother than to feel entirely helpless to take care of your precious, vulnerable child who is suffering.
All of this really put into perspective my own worries about the fact that my eldest had a sore throat this morning that *might* be strep.
I guess the message that I took away from my morning experience with the mom's group today was GRATITUDE. Gratitude for the mysteries of life that lead us into directions we might never have fathomed on our own, which turn out to be so much more important than anything we did come up with in our own brain or heart.
Gratitude for all that I am so lucky to have at this moment, all of which could potentially vanish at any time - making it even more crucial to feel and express my thanks RIGHT NOW. Gratitude for the electrical signals in my brain helping me to formulate ideas... and for the gift of muscles and nerves that work well enough in my body to move these fingers along a keyboard to record my inner thoughts.
I feel endless gratitude for the life of the little girl dancing by my side... two years ago we weren't sure she was going to make it, or if she would have tremendous disabilities and life challenges. Yet here she is, smart as a whip and busy pulling my shoes one by one out of their hanging bag in the closet to build shoe castles on the rug and giggle hysterically as she tries to use each shoe as a telephone to call her father. "Daddy home?" she asks each shoe. "Daddy home?"
I'm filled with gratitude for this sunny day, the roof over our heads, the food we have to eat, the ability to take our eldest to the doctor if he *does* have strep throat... (the ability to defy bacteria and make him well...) and the magic of life that continues to propel me forward to make new friends, find groups like this special mother's group, and through it to get closer to my own experience of faith and unique connection to the Divine.
Today I am awed and thankful for the mysteries and blessings that continue to unfold with every normal, 'routine' moment. I suspect there really is nothing very average about any moment... all of them are in their own quiet way, fraught with meaning.