One inspires us, the other softens us.
― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
Over the years, I've sung (and danced) bhajan and kirtan with the Hare Krishna's and Neem Koroli Baba's folks, participated in Sufi and Sacred Dance circles. Over the years I've found a great value in various aphorisms, affirmations and prayers, as well. Yet, for me, the combination of music and words can sometimes be High Magic.
Although I maintained my daily sitting practice (and continued examining the Lojong slogans) this week, the Universe also brought forth an unexpected, deeply healing, musical incantation. It emerged not from the Sacred Sounds of an eastern spiritual tradition, but from the first "girl group" to top the Billboard Top 100. Softy singing in my "mind's ear" this heavenly chorus of young women from New Jersey immediately transformed my state of mind. I had been pretty funked out at that moment, then, instantaneously, a grin emerged on my mug, the quality of my consciousness became brighter and lighter. All it took was the Shirelle's simple refrain:
Duh, Of course. It's Life as it is.
The past week has been a real doozie. Hurting my lower back 24 hours ahead of what turned
out to be a long travel day (four flight delays!) on Friday, I finally arrived back home. I was ready to proclaim "Honey, I'm home" to my life here. Stiff and sore, perhaps, but HOME!
The next day Betsy glanced casually at the back of my left thigh and exclaimed in alarm, "What's THAT!?"
THAT turned out to be a large red splotch with a darker angry looking center. Not seeing a tick, not feeling any discomfort beyond a bit of itchiness, we proceeded to drive to town to address what was really bothering me: a stiff an sore lower back prone to emitting sharp pains if I moved "incorrectly". Or coughed. Or laughed. Often, my friendly chiropractor can straighten me out in a single visit. Not so much this time. My back still hurt.
By Sunday the blotch had grown dramatically. Bigger and nastier looking, it proclaimed -- along with an insistent Betsy -- "get thee to the ER!" Since then, I've been back to the ER a second time because the first antibiotic didn't appear to be working, then had a follow-up with my doctor. I've seen the chiropractor twice more.
My back still hurts. The blotch doesn't appear to be very impressed by the collection of three antibiotics yet. (Doc T had scratched his head and said it's probably a spider bite, not a bacterial thing. As he recommended I stay on the antibiotics "just in case" and keep an eye on it, I wondered if I should watch as my leg fell off. LOL)
But I digress.
As I sit here with birds twittering across the meadow and through the woods out the window, I feel quite fine. It's been a gorgeous week back here in the Happy Valley.* Although my energy has been zapped and there's been some pain and discomfort, for the most it's been pretty easy. I'm laying back as much as I can, moving slowly when necessary. During every trip to town to Sit, inhabit medical facilities or procure supplies, I've run into friends and sangha-mates who lit me up like a candle with their bright eyes and kindness.
I feel quite Blessed.
I'm so Grateful to the Teachings and the Practice, for seeing clearly again that there is a quality of consciousness that is available to us that embraces both "gloriousness and wretchedness" with equanimity and loving kindness. Carefully opening our hearts and minds to the entire gamut of our experience, without clinging to the joys or pushing away the discomforts actually is possible. You can be okay with not okay.
Anyway you say it --or don't say it --it's Life as it is. Heartwarming. Heartbreaking. We can increasingly become Present for it all.
At this stage of the journey, I'm pleased to report that this is not Theory. It's Practice.