If anxiety takes a firm grip, then look down at the wild flower at your feet and up into the heavens at the birds flitting joyfully in the air
Translate the invisible winds by the water it sculpts in passing
So to my week:
• On a silent walking retreat my soft heal crushes a snail into a shocking brown-greenness.
• In a mindfulness class I arrange spider plant (with babies attached) and a succulent and small money tree so they are both at the centre of our shared circle of intent. While holding in my hands the third natural teacher (a dead fungus filled stump that was once a verdant Kalenchoa), we all sit and count our breath.
• I iron my orange shirt for todays marriage of a seventy-year-old guide leader to her scouting sweetheart. The creases eventually cannot resist the heat.
• I practice songs for next weeks cremation of a vibrant local boxer until the mechanical call of an NHS text reminds me of my own hospital visit. Smiling I realise that I will check in for signs of cancer on the same day I sing as he checks out for and from the same.
• Encouraging the fly, I flap my arms while he, or she, repeatedly hits the glass and belligerently misses his or her freedom to vomit over the grassy dog poo just outside the counselling front door.
• I spend many evening hours, over four days, crafting a poem evidently too pious, too repetitively derivative and self-conscious to share. Celebrating unfixing myself from insecurity and fixed view-point I post the poem on my blog regardless.
• Closing the door to the dog poo, I listen to confusion and hurt within relationship.
• I listen to withdrawal and concrete thinking.
• I listen to anxiety and lowness, anxiety and slowness, and forms of anxiety that meet unknowing complexity with palpitations and screams from inside.
• I listen to sexual and intimate delicacies.
• I read emails of thanks and connection, direction and guff.
• I listen and read and listen and learn and listen and interject maybe too much, certainly, this is too much, I say, too much, too much, and after its done I call all this stuff, my exhausting, thoughtful, heart expanding, working, contracting, intimately searching and ultimately, at the end of three days, I breathe with release and relief from another instalment of these fee paying weeks
• and yet
• Today I meet friends and family who too are sharing, who are struggling, who are marrying, who are dying and mourning, rejoicing and worrying too hard and too long, who are avoiding and connecting and flourishing, rejoicing and sharing their joy in fellowship and song, who are quietly anxious, depressed, or just happy, gregarious and maybe withdrawn, stressing to futures, regretful, forlorn and for each and all of this wonderful otherness, I call them my life, my riches, my home.
St Therese to chaplain Piere Belliere, in 1897,
a few months before her death at age 24:
I am not dying, I am entering into life.
Wakefulness again begun.
Bleeding free upon glimpsed shards of Luminous trust
that mysteriousness between this and this
sensational suffering mind.
quietly wake to still
this and this constantly re-fining will
re-fuel oneself to wait upon
that still small Voice
that Glittering Jewel
that active, in-active othering choice
to re-ignite in blessed hoped for souls renewal
by sinking-in ankle deep
that Ground grown moist
from leakages of wonton wounds and size nine feet
to stretch those tiny toes deeply deep
into that oozing boiling balm
that heated hopeful weight full ness
immersions that convert alarm to dozing daze and waits to be
replenished and be-calmed in fertile fires and shining mists
of Love and Grace said to exist beyond this and this
pre-occupied pre-possessed never ended re-positioning of grasp and cling to
flesh and bone and time and test.