We've been facing some interesting challenges lately. One of the ministers at unchurch uses that word "interesting" to describe anything that feels challenging or difficult or bad. I think she uses it because it's sometimes better to avoid forming a story around an event that prohibits us from seeing the positive that can come out of it, or to label it in a way such that our story about it becomes worse than the event itself. I like it. It reminds me of Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, wherein he finds that when people can find positive significance to hardship or tragedy, they are much more likely to live happy and full lives. Calling things "interesting" also encourages me to be more of an observer of my life and less caught up in all its little ups and downs.
Things have been interesting. I had a reaction to an allergy shot that landed me in the e.r.; we took Addie to the doctor for some tummy aches and found out she had bronchitis and a chronic stomach condition that requires some significant attention and changes on all of our parts; E's work is having some interesting cash flow challenges; my work is having some interesting personnel dynamics.
I have had my moments of freak-out. Don't let me misrepresent. But I've also been grateful for the extended autumn we're having, with the amazing colors, for the geese flying by, for the beauty of my family, for the peace of everyday work and chores, for the kindness people so often show one another, for parties, for laughter, for love. Another reverend at unchurch saw a flock of geese fly outside our classroom window during an intense morning storm. It was breathtaking. She was silent for a moment and then said, "Oh thank you, geese, thank you." Turning inward with gratitude, then projecting it outward, has helped tremendously.
And this, from Byron Katie's amazing book Loving What Is, which has been for me one of those books that comes along at just the right moment:
I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God's. (For me, the word God means "reality." Reality is God, because it rules. Anything that's out of my control, your control, and everyone else's control--I call that God's business).
Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, 'You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,' I am in your business. When I'm worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God's business. If I am mentally in your business or in God's business, the effect is separation.
If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine? We're both over there. Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn't work.
Ah, this clarified a lot for me. Just noticing how awesome I am in other people's business, how often I fight with reality (so many "shoulds" in my brain!) has been a clarifying experience. Honestly, I had started to worry that maybe something was wrong with me, that I couldn't be happy. I was deeply confused. But really, I was just separate from myself. When I can inhabit my center, stay in my own business, and locate grace and gratitude within, I feel deeply satisfied and joyful. So simple! And so easy to forget. The paradox of my spiritual life.
Here I am, though, back on the blog, and hoping to post more frequently. Addie and Nolie are growing up so fast. Addie makes me tell her stories about when she was a baby every night now (I'm going to run out soon!) and Nolie is on a vocabulary quest (mama, what does listless mean? How about product? How about contraption?). What a blessing this crazy existence is.