Divine Therapy


Thomas Keating says contemplation is divine therapy. If that's the case, I'm in some seriously therapeutic times around here, contemplating my messy house and all the tasks that made me think I was indispensable.

Turns out I have a fractured tibia (I didn't even know what a tibia was a week ago) and have been instructed to stay off it for the next 3 weeks. I won't bore you with all the medical details. As you know, I tend to go straight for the (metaphysical) jugular. Here's what I'm noticing:

I overfunction. In my uninjured life, I clear the kids' plates. I put away their laundry or make their snacks when they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves. I'm proud of how many chores they do around here, but I'm seeing there are still ways that I'm enabling them. That doesn't do them any favors. I want to raise the kind of adults I like to be around--competent, initiatory, hard-working, and collaborative.

There are plenty of things to do without walking around. It's ridiculous that most of you work 40+ hours/week and are still expected to pay bills on time, remember people's birthdays, read to your children, go to the dentist, cook healthy meals, volunteer, and keep the house clean. With all this time sitting around, there are still so many things to do that get squished out otherwise. It's a luxury to sit here and clean out my inbox and really focus on it instead of it being an afterthought.

I have a hard time receiving, but I'm getting better at it. I had planned to go to the grocery store yesterday, having the kids push the cart while I hop around on crutches. But Liz called and asked if she could do anything for me. I gave her my list and an hour later she showed up with groceries. I almost resisted her offer because it's so hard to say, "Yes, I need help." Why? Why is that so hard? I think it's because our culture privileges competency--we'd rather be giving than receiving. I'm learning to accept help graciously, and even finding joy in it. People want to give, which is so wonderful and humbling. My receiving makes our relationship more human, more vulnerable. Real relationships are full of dependency. I need you and you need me.

Meditation has been like batting practice. When the bases are loaded, I've been able to hit a home run. And by "home run," I mean "Not getting cranky, feeling sorry for myself, and eating half gallons of ice cream." I have known and felt that the real me, the "immortal diamond" of my true self, is not rattled at all by temporary immobility. I have felt connected to Source. Maybe even more connected.

I can trust my body. Pain let me know something was wrong. What a gift that is! And I can trust my body to know what it needs. Since I haven't been exercising, my appetite has decreased. I'm grateful I've been able to pay attention to that and eat less instead of dipping into emotional eating.

There will be more lessons like this in my life. I have no idea what it's like to live to with chronic pain or illness. I have no idea what it's like to constantly be saying "No" to things I want to do because I don't have the energy or mobility. I'm getting the tiniest glimpse of how isolating that would be, how some able-bodied folks just go about their business without even noticing. All of us are going to age. All of us are going to die. And the path to both might be full of infirmity or illness. As Anne Lamott says, life is like a hospital waiting room. The ones that are less sick are taking care of the ones that are more sick. That's our reality, however much we delude ourselves. Kindness is the medicine.

Meditation (or contemplation or centering prayer) is still hard even with so much time on my hands. "Not enough time" is always a defense. But I've got enough now and can think of lots of things to do besides sit in silence, truly not doing anything. "Monkey mind" never goes away. Tami Simone says our smartphones can become tools for transformation. NOT because we're downloading spirituality podcasts, though! Because we can notice all the times we pick them up habitually or pull them out when we're bored, and we can ask ourselves, "What am I avoiding in this moment?"

My goodness. I joked with Emily yesterday, "Watch out for the epiphanies. I've got time on my hands!" And I'm curious--what have you noticed in times of illness, injury, or forced life changes? What's gotten you through?