It was Tuesday night, one of my teaching nights, and my students were all snuggled up, comfortable, lying on their mats as we moved through the opening meditation. I heard myself say it, “Every moment is a teachable moment,” as I was relating my cat’s parasitic infestation to the parasitic thoughts, behaviours and patterns in our lives that rob us in the same way of our vitality and life force.
Every moment is a teachable moment.
I have had a wildly exhausting and emotional few months; hence my grand absence (Did you miss me? heh heh). It was a matter of nose and head down and go; that is, it was a matter of surviving the chaos of experience after experience after experience. It’s virtually impossible to write during these stages. Writing, for me anyway, requires an amount of distance from the subject so I can find the words to explain. When you’re in the soup pot, you’re swirling about and simply do not possess the faculties to explore interesting descriptions of the potatoes’ texture. Ya know what I mean?
I’m still not ready to get into the nitty gritty of it but today I found some words that needed to come out, so here I am.
These past few months have truly felt like a country and western song but I never found myself asking, “Why me?” Why ask? All of the stuff has been the stuff of life. The achy, messy, complicated stuff of life. It just so happens that it rained down in a shitstorm in a relatively short amount of time; that is what made the process almost unmanageable. What I found myself asking instead was, “What can I learn from this? What can I take away?” Here is some of what I found:
- The sensation in my body as my stomach dropped to the floor. My cat had been diagnosed with fatal kidney disease. My mouth went dry, my breath became shallow, and I began to sweat profusely.
How many others were standing in a similar spot, having just received a diagnosis for themselves or for a loved one? How did it feel in their bodies? How terrified were they at the idea of losing a loved one?
So I prayed for them.
- Watching as my cat’s legs buckled beneath her and she began to shudder from intense physical pain. Her eyes told me she had one foot here and one foot over on the other side. I simply lay beside her, watched her breathe, and breathed with her.
How many people were right beside a loved one, desperately watching every breath, observing the suffering, wishing there was something they could do to ease the pain, wrestling with the horrible feeling of helplessness in the face of mortality?
I prayed for them.
- Standing in the vet’s office with this bag of fur in my arms, eyes pathetically hopeful that if we could just put her on some medication she’d be okay, only to have the vet look at me and shake his head. Standing there having to make the decision to end this suffering, to end this life that I had nurtured for 16 years. And then making the decision to say goodbye.
How many people in how many hospital rooms, recognizing “the look” in the doctor’s eyes having to make the decision to pull their loved one off life support?
I prayed for them.
- Wishing for one more day, one more moment. One more opportunity to capture a scent, to hear a voice, to feel the warmth of another body.
How many people?
I pray for them.
Pema Chodron teaches a beautiful Buddhist compassion practice that goes like this: Whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re experiencing, say to yourself, “Other people feel (experience) this.” It is a profound yet simple teaching that opens your heart and reminds you that you are never alone. This is what came to me throughout all that I trudged through this past summer–someone else somewhere was going through something, just like me. Amazingly, instead of spending much time licking my wounds, I felt compelled to reach towards the suffering of others, to offer up something that might ease their pain, even for a moment. What can you do about the suffering of countless, faceless millions?
You can pray for them.
May you be reminded, whenever you have those glorious moments of grace where you feel peace within your heart, that someone somewhere is sending blessings your way. And may you send those blessings on.
Peace to you,