Sunday, August 27, 2017

And All Shall Be Well

Last night, I turned off the bedside lamp at 11:00 PM and immediately fell into a deep sleep. Then, at 4:30 AM, I woke and tossed and turned for about fifteen minutes. Finally, I rose, made myself a cup of herbal tea that might help me get back to sleep, and began reading, hoping my eyes would grow heavy again. The e-book that so engrosses me right now is the latest by Peter Robinson. It’s “Sleeping in the Ground,” an Inspector Banks mystery.

I was near its ending last night when I began to nod off. So this morning, I wanted to finish it. Normally I get up late—8:30, 9:00, 9:30—and sometimes as late as 10 AM. That’s because my body craves nine hours of sleep a night, and normally I don’t turn off the light until 1 or 1:30 AM. However, I’m trying to get onto a new cycle: go to bed early, rise early.

That’s become important as I’m feeling more and more the urge to begin writing again. The convent memoir manuscript is complete and an artist friend is designing the cover. My hope is that I can self-publish it in the next six months. Moreover, I have another cat book—a tongue-in-cheek fantasy accompanied by delightful art—that I hope to self-publish during that same time. This might seem that I’ve been writing, but actually I’ve done nothing this year. I’ve listened to my body and its need for rest. I’ve done what my good friend Judy has always advised: “Go with the flow, Dee.” And so I do; and so I’ve done.

This morning, as I began once again to read Robinson’s latest mystery, I felt myself drawn inward to that still place where Oneness dwells. Words came to me then: “And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceeding well.”

These words got me through the eighteen terrifying months of Meniere’s back in 2006-2007. They are the words of Julian of Norwich, an English anchorite and mystic of the late 14th and early 15th century. As Wikipedia informs us, “Her Revelations of Divine Love, written around 1395, is the first book in the English language known to have been written by a woman.”

I’ve said her words in the midst of acute rotational vertigo episodes with Meniere’s, said them as I’ve felt the pain of four bulging lumbar discs resting on sciatic nerves, as I’ve struggled to feel at home in Missouri, as I’ve worried about our latest presidential election, as I’ve lived through the death of seven close friends in the past three years, as I’ve given up driving because of my compromised vision.

In other words, Julian’s wisdom comes to me in times of stress when I’m not sure where to turn for comfort and peace. They also come to me when I worry about those I love who are facing life’s vicissitudes—like Hurricane Harvey. And yes, they come to me when I feel the joy of being loved.

The truth is that those words—which came so spontaneously to my lips one afternoon in September 2006 when a Meniere’s episode thrust me to the floor and I banged my head against the dining-room hutch—have been pure gift from the past. I do not remember when I first met or memorized them, but they remain one of the purest gifts I've ever received. They have seen me through the valleys of the past ten years and been with me when I’ve ascended to the mountain tops. The truth of them enlightens my life and keeps me positive about all that is and all that will be in the span of my years.

“All shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceedingly well.”

Yes, all has worked out to good within my life. I trust it will continue to do so. It is with great gratitude and love that I tell you I’ve lived long years and the gift of that longevity is the knowledge that all works out to good. Peace.

Wikipedia photograph of statue of Julian at the Norwich Cathedral.

Friday, August 18, 2017

One Moment in Time

Wednesday, a friend and I talked about the upcoming solar eclipse. We live within the total-eclipse path that stretches across twelve states—from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. Those outside that path will observe a partial eclipse; here in Kansas City it will be total. At 1:09 PM, on Monday, August 21, the sky here will darken to night for two minutes and thirty-four seconds.

As we spoke, Zoe shared her thoughts about the possibilities the eclipse offered. As I remember, she brought up what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Friday, August 18, 2017. There chanting white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists marched with candles raised high. The night-time scene was reminiscent of many Klan blitzkriegs that ended in the death of black men. This march resulted in three deaths and thirty-four injuries. Decades, centuries of hatred, fear of being replaced, and hunger for power led to this homegrown terrorist violence.

Zoe went on to say that the Virginia violence resulted from human action. Humans caused it. But humans will do nothing to cause this eclipse. It is a phenomenon of nature. She believes that the fact that all of us here in the United States will view a partial or a total eclipse that is a natural—not human—happening could unite us, if only for a minute or two.

For two minutes, she said, we as one will view a rarity not of our making. Within that occurrence, there is no white or black, no heterosexual or bisexual or gay or lesbian or transgender, no Jew or Christian or Muslim or atheist, no pro-choice or pro-life, no poor or rich, no homeless or mansion dweller, no leader or follower, no peacemaker or terror-maker.

There is only all of us observing wonder—all of us being part of an astounding natural experience. Nothing will divide us during that time. We all—as one—will have the same awe-inspiring experience.

When we ended our conversation, I continued to ponder. I’m not a philosopher nor a deep thinker, but I do want to follow Micah’s words in the Hebrew Testament: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (I don’t really use the word God any more as a personal being. I say “Holy Oneness of All Creation,” hoping to gather all of us into the word God.)

I thought of those white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, those violent iconoclasts who fight for ISIS, and all those who seem to embrace hate at the deep center of themselves. In what way, could I act justly toward them? Here are the three things I can do right now from my home:

1.     During those two minutes and thirty-four seconds, as I gaze upward through my solar glasses, I’m going to send out into the Universe my deep desire that each of us—no matter our background—will begin to discover the depth of love that conquers fear and hatred, intolerance and rigidity. I am going to envision a world at peace—for however brief the moment.

2.     I’m going to remember daily and hourly that everything begins with one. One person gives peace to another. Tiny drops of water become One in the ocean of being. 

3.   I'm going to live that motto of the Southern Poverty Law Center: I will fight hate; teach tolerance; and seek justice as I live the rest of my life.


(Zoe, if I misrepresent what you said, please leave a comment and correct my memory.)

Photograph from NASA.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Peace Shattered by an Alert

For the past two weeks, I’ve experienced a situation that threatened my inner peace. My contentment. This posting recounts the highlights of the saga!  

About three weeks ago, I signed up to use an alert system. Because of the vertigo caused by Meniere’s Disease and because my compromised vision has affected my balance, I opted for a “fall” pennant to wear around my neck. It would alert the company if I fell and perhaps became unconscious and so couldn’t press the recessed button. I could also press the button if I needed other medical help.

The box with the equipment—help monitor with aerial, fall pennant, regular pennant, wrist pennant, and lockbox—arrived a week later. However, before I even opened the box to activate the system, three firemen showed up at my door at 7:00 am because they’d received an alert. Relieved that I was okay, they were puzzled by an alert from an un-activated system.

That afternoon, my sister-in-law activated the system for me. However, the problem persisted. Within the next ten days, I received seven calls from the company saying they’d gotten an alert from my home. Was I okay?

Each time, I told them I was fine and that I’d pressed no button. In fact, I wasn’t even wearing the pennant. I’d laid it flat on a table with a ceramic cup over it so that it wouldn’t be accidentally jostled by one of the cats.

I felt as if I were living with a time bomb.

At any time, whether I was in the house or not, some ghost, goblin, or poltergeist might press the button. Or . . . more likely . . . a piece of defective equipment might go off. If I weren’t in the house to answer the call from the alert company, the firemen would show up. If that happened more than twice, I’d be paying an extra fee.

Daily I feared getting a call during the early hours of the morning and not hearing it. Because of Meniere’s, I’m deaf in my left ear. So if I sleep on my right ear, I can’t hear the phone. If the company called to say they’d gotten an alert, I wouldn’t hear the phone ringing. The company would then call the fire station. That’s what happened when the unopened box was on my kitchen table. I didn’t want it happening again. So my sleep became restless.

Midway through the two-week period, I endeavored to cancel the service, but I let the rep convince me that all would be well. Yet nothing changed.

So this past Saturday morning, after being awakened at 1:10 am with an alert, I canceled the contract. I’ve sent back the equipment and, after mailing it, shouted “Free at last! Free at last!” as I reentered my home. Last night I slept well with no worry that I’d be receiving a card to interrupt my dreaming.

The idea of an alert now that I have more physical problems was a good one—but the actuality stressed my life. I’m now trusting that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be exceedingly well” as Julian of Norwich said so many centuries ago. Her words got me through Meniere’s. They will, I trust, be with me as I journey into an older and older version of Dee Ready.

That experience left be bereft of contentment for two weeks. During that time a maelstrom of emotions swept through me: frustration, anger, tiredness, confusion, exasperation. I also felt a great deal of trepidation, but little genuine contentment. It’s contentment that I hope to write about next week. Peace.

Photograph from Wikipedia