Friday, May 1, 2015

Blessings of April

April was a full month. It brought a happiness I haven't known in over a year. I was able to visit my family and friends in my hometown and what a blessed time it was! Every moment was golden to me. I haven't laughed that long and that hard for so long. I sang and played songs for all my loved ones. My love and I visited the farm where we said "I do" over two years ago. The familiarity of everyone and every place was comforting to me. Leaving the people and the place that made up my home for almost 25 years has proven to be the hardest choice I have ever made. I knew that marrying a ranger-man, who always takes the road less-traveled, would lead me to make a sacrifice. In February 2012, days after we entered into a courtship, my man and I took long walks during sunset and sat on top of rustic red buttes, discussing the future we had envisioned with each other. I knew leaving all that I had known was part of that equation. I did not hesitate. I promised to follow him always. I promised everything to him just as he, in that moment, promised to return to my home-state and marry me soon. Over three years have passed since that first conversation and I have no regrets about my choice, but the pain is still real. Even so, whenever I am able to be with those I love, those moments mean ten times more to me.

April was also a month of closing in, an expansion of the mind's understanding and also a narrowing of the mind's focus, a letting go of all that has been, and receiving closure for the things that I cannot change. Sadness will always walk with me. It is a part of my story. A divine instrument to strip and carve me down into my truest identity, the truest self that has always been within, waiting for an awakening. Yet, I have also found that there is a reservoir in me capable of much joy. The sorrow and joy, coexisting in harmony, create the rich fruits of gentleness, kindness, patience, understanding, compassion, and acceptance. In my times of meditation and introspection, I sense these fruits welling up within me. What they will become in maturity, I do not yet know. I welcome the water of Life to my inner garden, the grace of my sweet Jesus, and tend to myself. Grace and Identity, hand in hand, are restoring the inner landscape of my ravaged heart. Grace, which says I am always and unconditionally favored. Identity, which says I am the Beloved, the Pure, the Clean, the Righteous. I have nothing to prove, nothing to do. I rest, allowing my inner self to receive what has been given, and entrust my growth and healing to Father's care.

As I continue to struggle with physical pain and symptoms of unrest in my body, I am learning to simple be, to cease the grasping for solutions and resolve. I came across this Kahlil Gibran quote from a now-favorite yoga therapist that I recently started gleaning wisdom from.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so you must know pain. 

I am allowing myself the opportunity to truly know my pain. To cease wrestling with it has opened a world of understanding about myself, about my Savior, about humanity, about nature. And suddenly the revelation came to me that my Savior, who took upon the unpredictability and frailty of my own human flesh, became well acquainted with many layers of pain. He did not turn from it, nor did he fight it. Also, he never sought a solution to "fix" it. From the day He was crucified to the day He resurrected and until now, pain has continued on in this world. Pain in all its varied, traumatic, and despairing forms. Instead, He came so that we might know Him, to remove all that stood in the way of a restored relationship with Him. Pain and suffering became a gateway to this. Nature is a narrative to this as well when you study the seasons and when you analyze the cellular functions of our bodies. Life birthing from decay, death, and pain is a cycle that continues on in many layers. More recently, I have begun picking apart the ways I view this cycle. Before, the goal of restored Life was all my focus. Being vision-minded, the end result is all I have cared about. Oddly enough, that focus has been unhealthy and self-destructive. While that thinking is an integral part of my personality, I also see how those thoughts are heavily instilled into the Western world and, sadly, Western Christianity has adopted it. It revolves around results, achieving goals, and constantly improving ourselves, our circle of people, organizations, businesses, etc. So much could be said on this, but I am summarizing this to say that in awakening to my pain and taking time to step back and releasing my hold on "fixing" it, I have been made aware to the self-destruction of constantly pushing to the end result. I must allow the cycles of nature to run its course, even in myself. In observing, self-reflection, and remaining present, I can then learn what is needed to serve me towards wholeness. 

As I write these words, I wonder if this comes across as sounding esoteric. Maybe so.  

I have found the key to unlock my life. I misplaced it by adopting frenzied approaches. Still, I must practice this, memorize this. Learning comes slowly, but it comes with gentle repetition. These days, I am learning the slow, subtle, soft repetitions of grace, present-mindedness, receiving what is given for the day. You know, like the birds? They who neither sow nor reap, and yet they fly as free beings, bound by nothing.

P.S. This song inspires me.

A summary of snapshots from my Arizona trip: