I was meditating this morning in the tattered wingback chair in my office, candle burning, inspiring words gathered within view: a list I call My Loving Circle (those in my life who have died, with a picture of my aunt Minke (she was a nun in Switzerland and she died last October) attached; Emily Dickinson’s poem from which the title of this blog is drawn (and now as I work on strengthening my back through physio and the Alexander Technique, I can feel my nascent wings there, straining); some lines on remembering, on love; and a few recent lines from Martha Beck. You can see them in the photo, but I’ll type them here as well.
Resisting what we can’t control removes us from reality, rendering our emotions, circumstances and loved ones inaccessible. The result is a terrible emptiness, which we usually blame on our failure to get what we want.
Actually, it comes from refusing to accept what we have.
Martha posted those lines recently on her website as the day’s inspiration, and I liked them so much that I typed them up and printed them out. This morning I found the page in the printer, reread it, and decided to place it where I could see it as I meditated.
A few minutes into my meditation, I read the lines again and was flooded with their meaning. My body and its limitations; my home in its scruffy imperfection; all the people I love, with their quirks, their gifts and their troubles; my work, never done as well as I would like; the world and all the people in it. All of it flowed into me, gloriously rich, just as it is.
I miss so much in each moment, as I strain against the sore knees, the mess, the imperfect lecture. I miss so much when a person I love is right here with me or talking to me on the phone, and I’m worrying about their future or flinching at an open cupboard door or a conversation that drags on a bit. I could be seeing and hearing them, receiving them, exactly as they are. I miss so much when I think back on a class I taught and recoil at a flub or a missed opportunity instead of making a note for the future and remembering all that went exactly right, the dozens of interested students, their ideas and insights and my own.
I’m pretty sure this is a lesson to be learned over and over a thousand times and then a thousand times more, but I took it in deep this morning, and it felt like a gift, and I thought I’d share.