Great day, terrible day
This day two years ago, a beloved teacher and master of care left his body. Though the author of the poem above first introduced me to the Tibetan tradition of realization, it was the books and tales of the life of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu that brought me firmly back to the living practice of cutting through the stories of self and other, a pursuit still rich and growing with me now some decade after picking up the first book.
The vast number of living love beings that have left this earth on any given day, uncounted and unknown is beyond my realization at this time, this one was special to me.
I woke to this day at 2 AM, four short hours of sleep. My friend would be back from sleeping in his car after struggling to maintain the necessary discipline to remain a formal member of this household. Our friendship intact, community strained but intact, I am met by the full force of the state of care in our world.
This new friend, this sincere man, has fallen, like so many others, through the cracks of a not yet realized whole human care. Rewarded for his skills as an entertainer of sport, but isolated from the vast array of human experience, when his time of use came to an end he found himself on my doorstep.
What can MettaCare do with this? I have had to ask myself again and again for the last two months. Undoubtedly he glimpses some sense of aspiration, but the lights of the life he was promised glare still too brightly, occluding his vision.
This gentle soul has not been isolated from all hardship, but on balance has known the simple and humble levity of minor stardom. Today, it is gravity he must learn to know and with which to dance.
Today it is my unfortunate honor to help him along this path. If we can manage, and I am striving to manage, he will stay with as a caregiver and partner in growth, but he must be held less closely as far as I can tell to enable the vicissitudes to do their work in strengthening the soul.
I am between worlds today. Judy died yesterday, my daughter’s maternal grandmother. Her daughter and family mourn the loss. Today my brother arrives in Montana to steward, such as he can, my father’s journey of discovery of the weight of diagnosis facing him today.
I met with Patience this morning, tending as we could, the residual wounds from yesterday’s struggle.
Elisa called, and David, the former by request, the latter by instinct and I could feel held by the closest and longest lived of my community. Fortunately the conversation did not linger solely on me and these acute traumas, but rather ranged further into the fields of care.
“What happens?” Posited David, “when a community looking in to a field of care imagines that things are more well than they are?” Don’t we all do this, and isn’t this the source of the adage to “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle of their own.”?
The exercise dawned on me, what if, within a community, neighborhood, organization, or any context where people (I think this could also be done as entities in a community or field organizations) have some reasonable familiarity with one another, one member were to step forward into the center.
Each of the others would describe some quality or belief they carried about the well-being, strengths, or excellence of the one in the middle.
Having received this praise of admiration, the member would then reflect to the community the stories of precisely where they felt weak or fragile or broken, or on some struggling edge with the very strengths that have been described.
I record that here lest I forget to make note and it slips away.
My mind is soft for suffering and lack of sleep. The ground beneath my feet, shifting yet again. What will be the new shape of things to come, I do not know, I trust that like so much else, it will change again. It must.
Today I explore that line between faith and terror. So many demons of mind eager to loom forward with stories of bad decisions, difficult outcomes, weakness and inequity, and yet the path through remains the same… Clear the mind, let go of the stories, witness what is true, walk into that.
Easy right? 😉
Our friend Claudia who reminds us periodically just what clean really looks like is just now querying LB at the door with his bag. “Where are you going?” She says.
“I don’t know.” He replies.
A very human moment, he and I will work together to answer her question as well as we can. Some were not far I hope.
A child I know, not well, has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. I’ll know more later. So many precious people with struggles lesser, similar, greater than my own. What if we all could see the struggles we are having, when then might we discover the strengths we can bring to one another?
God gets to know things, we just get to ask questions…