I can remember the first time I saw Frankie read the cards. He was dealing with some questions about his own career path and life journey, and there in our bedroom, on top of a comforter gifted to us for our wedding, he laid out a spread. I was dealing with my own questions at that time, particularly about pursuing chaplaincy and ordination. So I asked him to read for me, and he proceeded to do so. But I had questions. Was he telling the future, or something else? How did he know what the cards meant? Where and how did he learn to tell the story? Was this divine (or demonic) inspiration?
When I woke up this morning bright and early, I thought almost immediately about writing. And for whatever reason, the title above came to mind. It wasn't until after my morning caffeine that I realized why: I'm not crashing anymore. I thought, though, that I was going to be writing about strength or resilience or courage. As I searched for quotes (see, now you know my writing process), nothing that came up for those words resonated with me. Then another word came to mind: contentment. It would seem that my mental image of flying is less about strength or resilience and more about the contentment that comes with being where you are.
The lie: I always have to be alert, because if I let my attention go only to myself, I'll miss out on something. The lesson: I cannot be all things to all people. I can only be myself, and doing so requires less energy than trying to figure out all the different people I feel others might need me to be. The self-love: pay attention to your breath and your chest — they usually tell you something about your heart.
My life since moving to Vancouver has been a whirlwind of emotion, fantasy, grief, sadness, loneliness, stress, expectation, assumption, and probably a few more words that all sum up to my feeling a bit crazy and not like myself at all. I'm drawn to the dramatic, the fraught. I've recognized lately just how tight I hold my shoulders and how often my fists are clenched. In that moment where I make a conscious effort to drop my shoulders and release my fingers, I breathe. It's not a loud breath, but I can hear it inside myself. So you can imagine how fitting I found Rumi's words to be this morning. Open. Closed. Tight. Relaxed.
There is a time and a place for gratitude, for thanksgiving. There is also a time and a place for mourning and sorrow, for anger and pain. I'm glad that I get to help make space for the latter, for people to simply feel what they feel without judgment or condemnation. Next time you think of saying the words, "Be grateful," ask yourself, "Would I be grateful right now if I were in their shoes, if I felt their pain?"
Most often, when people experience a loss, their minds go to one of two places initially: either they start to wrestle with the what-ifs of a situation or they jump right into the details of the what's-next. In the moment of pain, crisis, and loss, it's hard for most of us to sit in that pain and bear it. To do so would be to accept that change is coming, whether we like it or not. It is often the job (and privilege) of those of us on the periphery to help contain the questions that surface. We don't have to offer answers. We just need to show up.
Perhaps true contentment happens not before or after the storm but at its epicenter, at the eye of the hurricane. In the midst of tumultuous winds and rain and hail and lightning and thunder, maybe, just maybe, that is where we are able to find stillness, find the place where we are settled and grounded and rooted in what it is that makes us who we are.