Know then that the body
is merely a garment.
Go seek the wearer, not the cloak.
I put on a shirt this morning. One pleated in the back to comfortably fit my narrow shoulders. Shoulders that are narrow because I do not sit up straight. My back has been curved for most of my life. This is just fact – something I have adapted to along the way.
I have spent a lot of my life adapting – adjusting over the years to changes as my joints and muscles have tightened. It is part of living with a disability. Every day I have a choice – to wake up with a sense of ownership or frustration as I prep for my day. For almost 60 years I have been able to balance ownership and frustration. No reason to fight it – and certainly no interest in feeling sorry for myself.
Then there are the times when a sense of loss washes over like a wave. I met that wave this morning, grieving my unexpected losses.
It was as I put on a shirt. One that used to fit comfortably. In a second I felt a longing for my body of the past. Clearly our bodies change over time. Aging has it’s on way of sculpting and re-sculpting. Yet when these changes include two mastectomies it requires a certain type of adjusting – a more practiced way of ownership. This ownership takes courage – a lot of courage. There is work in facing a truth each day. A truth reminding me that part of my body has drastically changed. Sometimes it takes more work than others but each time a decision is made to take a step forward and forge ahead.
I have always looked at my future through the eyes of possibility. Seldom have I faced an obstacle that did not have an alternate path. This is the way I have lived and live today. Each morning I know at my core that the mirror before me reflects a whole person. Physically altered by surgeries and age but whole.
So I try to be gentle with myself when I meet the sunrise with the feeling of sadness and loss. Life is not a race to avoid oneself and there are moments when it is important to pause.
This body, my garment, has needed patching. The words from Rumi instruct from without and within. As the ‘wearer‘ I am grateful to understand the difference between being a whole body and being a whole person.
Gratitude that can often change the course of a day.
Quote and photo from Rumi Facebook page
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” -Anne Lamott
Hope – with it we are able to take that first step forward. It is so very important but it is not something that is always easy to obtain. Rising up from the deepest place within us, hope requires work and determination.
Recently I have been aware of how much energy is required to be hope-full. I am now a breast cancer survivor(x3). I have been a survivor since the day I learned of my first diagnosis 19 years ago. This was four days before I celebrated my 40th birthday and having breast cancer was the farthest thing from my mind.
That is how it happens. While moving through life with plans and ambitions, the path changes, abruptly and with little warning. In a single moment on a normal afternoon, I was told I had breast cancer – a diagnosis that would change my life forever. Enveloped in the bright light of a doctor’s office, all plans dropped away – priorities shifted – I started living as a survivor.
So I have found myself once again inthat single moment. In December I sat under the bright lights of a new doctor’s office to hear I had breast cancer again. Being a survivor feels empowering and overwhelming. In my experience it does not matter how often you face a new diagnosis the resolve to continue life as a survivor has to be made anew.
I am inspired by the survivors I have known and know today. These women and dear friends have shared their living stories with honesty and extraordinary courage. During my new ‘single moment’ I honor and remember these amazing women. They have taught me much about living life to the fullest from day one.
Hope does find a way. From learning of the first test results I learned how hope would reinforce the ground underneath my nervous stance. I know this “stubborn hope” that Anne Lamott describes. It is what stirs the courage to take my next step in life. When the news seems unbearable and the options for healing sound impossible hope has been there.
Like a seed planted deep into the ground, hope has taken root within, creating a strong foundation to support my steps toward the gentle light of Dawn.
(This video is one of my favorites. It has been my inspiration on more than one occasion.)