On this Sunday before Thanksgiving, I am filled with—appropriately enough—a deep sense of gratitude. The feeling encompasses a mix of learned and spontaneous appreciations, all of which are tied to a lengthy period of physical pain. Unexpectedly, while the physical condition worsens, my spirit has flourished: This statement stems not from pride, but from relinquishing control when necessary; from forging ahead when to do so seems nearly impossible; from absolute refusal to entertain a negative mindset; and from accepting that help can be offered without strings.
I am especially thankful for the latter lesson. Like most human beings, I have had my share of heartbreak and staggering disappointment: And like most others, I have not always processed those times gracefully or wisely. But with attention, awareness, prayer, and meditation (not to mention bouts of therapy, whether professional or friend-based), I have some understanding of why I reacted—or chose not to react—in a given way. I also consciously aim to receive support as the kindness it is meant to be, and to let my grateful heart be seen.
Because the last year has been one in which I have had to confront constant, deepening physical pain, I have had to mitigate how and what I do on a daily basis. As one whose physicality has been an integral part of my career in the movement and healing arts, and also one of my greatest general enjoyments, to cope with its decline has been a challenge. Fortunately, I have learned to detect God behind such trials, and therefore tend to approach them with a reverence and devotion born of fervent faith in the Ways of the Divine.
Especially within the last couple of months, I have had to contend with and accept the increasing limitations of my mobility. One of the first things I give thanks for is that my situation is fixable: I will have surgery that most often yields wonderful results. That knowledge helps me to power through, yet when muscles and joints reach their literal breaking point, mind-over-matter does not always work. Enter the need to accept help: Neighbors are at the ready to help me carry items up stairs; they move slowly along with me; and they put forth their commitment to help post-surgery.
Last week, a good buddy extended his willingness to be at the ready to help with errands and such. And then again this very morning, a note arrived from a friend who has proved unceasingly present and supportive: She and her husband have made it clear that they are happy and willing to help anytime, now and post-surgery.
These are people whom I have grown to trust; their offers are sincere and heart-centered. To let my pride or embarrassment impede the flow of that energy seems not only ungrateful, but disrespectful to God and the Universe. I have been issued a true challenge, but also I have been provided with the gifts and tools to address the test. The physical challenge may, in fact, not be the crux of the challenge: Perhaps the recognition of the strength involved in accepting aid is the primary lesson that I have been charged with learning.
With these thoughts, I am called to offer a selection from Paramahansa Yogananda’s Spiritual Diary. As introduced several weeks ago, such writings comprise this blog’s “Sayings Series”: From time to time, Paramahansa’s words of wisdom, philosophy, and revelation underscore or provide direction to daily or Life concerns. Today’s Silent Sunday correlates well with the following entry on Humility:
“Pride is blinding, banishing the vision of vastness possessed by greater souls. Humbleness is the open gate through which the divine flood of Mercy and Power loves to flow into receptive souls.”
While to say that I am grateful for the unrelenting pain that accompanies me may seem a stretch, I certainly give thanks for the rich contemplation, ardent prayer, disciplined meditation, and adjusted perspective that has become as present as the pain. Without having been forced to slow down; without the ability to repress or ignore emotional discomfort by jumping or running around; without the choice to refuse offers of help, I have been humbled. As it turns out, Humility is a freeing feeling: Contrary to the sense of being at the mercy of another, humbleness ushers in Mercy; as Paramahansa points out, that divine offering flows inward, empowering The Soul.
On this Silent Sunday, as on all days, I wish you the gift of discovering the great, good fortune that lines whatever challenge you may be facing.