Yesterday was a strange day. There was too much going on around me and I needed to disconnect in order to process all the busy jangled thoughts and emotions. To the eyes of the observer, I was a quiet pool of tranquility in a sea of mixed sorrows and blessings. Inside, I was indeed very still, but I think that underneath that stillness, there was a churning. Just as the heart withdraws the circulation of blood from the extremities in times of emergency, I had withdrawn my connection to the external world.
My little sister and I waited almost all day to hear if our mother was being released from hospital after a less than smooth gall bladder removal which had seen her stay extended from a planned 24 hours to 13 days with a prospective replay in six weeks time to catch the giant stone that got away. This was the culmination of an intense period of anxiety as she put off every opportunity to have the operation done. Such a black Irish stubborn streak in so seemingly gentle a woman, reminds those of us who splinter against it that immovable objects like icebergs are indeed largely below the surface.
Earlier that morning, I had heard that a man I had known for almost thirty years, a work colleague just a few years older than me, had died the day before. He had felt ill over the Christmas holiday, collapsed just after New Year's Day and was dead three week's later from a silent but deadly cancer of the kidneys and liver. I had worked with him and his wife; we had socialised together and when our company collapsed and was taken over, I had made one of my last acts the safeguarding of his position. Their lives revolved around their grown children and the delights of their grandchildren. Nothing else was important in their lives other than one another and now she faces the long years ahead without him.
A few hours later, I learned that the wife of a friend was dying of cancer of the brain. I cannot even begin to imagine how this already melancholy man will survive her absence. During all the long years I have known him, I have scooped him out of the pits of depression on several occasions. Now I can only pray and hope that he will come through this darkness.
Later in the afternoon, my older brother told me about his best friend, a boy we both grew up with, now a very successful businessman in Australia. He faces heart by-pass surgery this week and by coincidence at the same Perth hospital where another friend's brother battled bravely for his life for six months after a heart transplant. I was involved almost daily in pulling together an international prayer and healing circle to support him and it was immensely sad when he passed just before Christmas. Then we cannot hold back the tides of death when it is time, although our acceptance of this can come a little tardy and after much pain.
So, yesterday was a day of internal ruminating. I was not aware consciously of all this processing going on. I simply drifted through the day in an almost surreal detachment. I was disconnected from external life while the assimilation of all this took place. Oh, there was also my visit with my schizophrenic brother whose current delusion is that he is about to die from spinal disconnection due to osteoporosis. When I tried to draw the reality of medical fact into the conversation, I was greeted with calm but hostile disdain. Ah, well, I tried.
Yes, indeed, yesterday was certainly a good day to be disconnected, to feel life wash gently over me without even getting wet. It was rather like being anaesthetised yet somehow still conscious. I could feel the scalpel cut but I didn't feel any pain.
It was later in the evening when I became joined up again, when all the pieces of this day's jigsaw fell back into place. It began with my practice of gratitude. No matter how awful the day might have been, or indeed how awful it looks to become, I have always found a few moments to take stock of all that I have to be blissfully happy about it my life. It puts all the icky dark grungy stuff into perspective and often as not dissolves it. Lest you think I am as delusional as my brother, I live in the reality of the moment, I simply chose to focus on what is good about my life rather than wallow in the mire. Why would anyone chose to be miserable when they can be happy?
I took a few moments to collect my scattered thoughts and to simply allow gratitude to fill me up. This is a short selection of what I gave thanks for yesterday.
Today I am so very grateful for:
Bringing my mother home from hospital after 13 days
Seeing the look of relief on my 83 year old father's face as she walked through the door of their home
The nurses, doctors and support workers who gave the gift of their long years of training to make this possible
My mother for her stubborn quiet Irish courage which sometimes drives me nuts in the nicest of ways
My husband, Jim, for loving me and for the joy I find in loving him
Our son, Jan, for his compassionate heart, his shining soul, his sparkling mind and for simply being who he is
My sister-in- law for all the help she brings to many
My little brother for all his obsessive fears, troubled mind and delusions. He is who he is and I am grateful for the love he brings to my life.
My older brother for the deep friendship which has endured through all the years of our adult lives, pretty good for two kids who fought like two cats in a bag.
For the bright blessed beauty of a crisp sunny day
For the stunning sunset that set the Clyde Valley alight as we came home from the hospital
For my little sister who helped me bring our mother home
For the work that she does in helping troubled children find secure roots in the world
For Julie Jordan Scott and the magic of her circle where dreams are born into reality and magic is everyday
For me simply being me. For the grace of being comfortable in my own skin. For looking in the mirror and smiling at my reflection. For loving myself just the way I am.
For absolutely everything and all the everythings I don't yet know. I am celebrating them right now.
What a difference a few moments contemplation of gratitude brings. I feel so centred, so blissfully at peace. Love entered my heart, my mind, my soul. Every fibre of my being resonates with love. Love beams out into the world from the big grin on my face, in the tenderness of my worlds, in the flow of healing energy from these hands. Nothing exists but this love. Nothing touches or troubles me in my cocoon, wrapped around in a divinity of love. All is in perfect order and all is well. I feel on fire with that deep sense of joy and freedom that love brings with it. I am sure you can feel me glowing from wherever you read today. I am suffused in love, like the sun rising to warm and bless the earth.
This is my heaven. Love is truly all there is. No darkness can withstand its fiercely gentle glow.
Gratitude is the key. It opens the door to love.
Here is my bliss, my paradise. Here is the glory of the divine, the enchanted blessing of life lived in love.
Here is the transcendence of the human spirit.
Here is the heaven that I chose to dwell in.