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
No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.
A week ago today I wrote to say that I was entering the steel and sterile doors of an operating room. A week ago tonight I was gradually climbing above the fog of anesthesia.
In seven short days I have experienced strength and weakness. I have felt brave and fearful. The recovery required more hospital time than I had anticipated. The second day I had to pray my fighting prayers to stay hopeful while new and VERY unpleasant tests were required. In the end all was well and I returned to my home where family and friends surrounded me with comfort and care.
Getting well takes work and attitude. Healing is never simple. Always details that require attention. Details that would normally make my skin crawl! But these were and are my details. Important to oversee with the bravest heart I can manage.
I am in the midst of positively healing. With surgery behind me I came home to wait for labs that would reveal the next road to be taken. In three short days (I was told it would be a week), the phone rang and my surgeon shared the best news- the cancer was contained, all lymph nodes were clear.
I felt my breath enter as if anew – as if this were my very first day.
And now I hear – ‘pay attention’. Healing is never simple. The mind and spirit join the body’s work to heal. I have been here before and each time the call to ‘pay attention’ grows in intensity.
The chance is before me once again- to discover secrets, cover uncharted lands and most especially – to open doorways.
With gratitude spilling over, I wonder – what could be waiting…
I am fascinated with doors. Intrigued by their diversity it seems doors can describe so much about what is on the other side either by their detail or their simplicity. They often reflect the traveler’s relationship to a point of entry.
There are times when doors open onto a challenging and difficult path. Walking through these portals may call on as much courage as one can gather. Today I am at the entrance of such a door.
My cancer has returned. For the third time I have heard a doctor say ‘there is a small mass in your breast’. Malignant… but caught early! We discuss the options with little need for the explanations shared with a beginner.
Tomorrow morning I will enter the sterile doors of an operating room. I will be meeting these doors as I have for all of my other surgeries- with faith in God’s healing spirit, trust in those who will care for me and gratitude for all who hold me in their thoughts and prayers.
As I look at my life I see a series of amazing and beautiful doorways. Each have opened and encouraged my own growth and understanding. Not all are easy nor attractive I have moved through them with determination and the same curiosity as any other.
Like the wardrobe in CS Lewis’, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – many thresholds lead us into places where we must use strength, wisdom and courage we never knew was within us. Thresholds that lead us into places where our faith is enriched and we discover things new and filled with wonder.
With all of this in my mind and heart, I give thanks for God’s grace and care.