One girl's way of working out her experience of breast cancer through rapid-fire blogging. What you see is what you get. Me, relatively unedited and not always composed.
*The title of this blog is an homage to The Flaming Lips song "Yoshimi Battles Pink Robots", one our family grooves to in the car. ['Cause she knows that/it'd be tragic/if those evil robots win/I know she can beat them]
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Emerging Fullness, in the Deluge
MR. O'DONOHUE*: Well, I think that the threshold, if you go back to the etymology of the word "threshold," it comes from "threshing," which is to separate the grain from the husk. So the threshold, in a way, is a place where you move into more critical and challenging and worthy fullness. And I think there are huge thresholds in every life. I mean, I think, you know that, for instance, I'd like to give a very simple example of it is, that if you are in the middle of your life in a busy evening, 50 things to do and you get a phone call that somebody you love is suddenly dying. Takes 10 seconds to communicate that information, but when you put the phone down, you are already standing in a different world. Because suddenly everything that seems so important before is all gone and now you are thinking of this. So the given world that we think is there and the solid ground we are on is so tentative. And I think a threshold is a line which separates two territories of spirit, and I think that very often how we cross is the key thing.
MS. TIPPETT: And where is — where is beauty in that?
MR. O'DONOHUE: Where beauty is — I think is beauty — beauty isn't all about just nice, loveliness like. Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming. And I think when we cross a new threshold that if we cross worthily, what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition that were in us that had us caught somewhere. And in our crossing then we cross on to new ground where we just don't repeat what we've been through in the last place we were. So I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.
Today I walked back through church doors that I hadn't crossed in ten years, my return prompted by something John O'Donohue said about community and christianity and this great understanding of beauty and thresholds and moving into "more critical and challenging and worthy of fullness." The decision to stop attending church was as frivolous as my starting: I began going to the Unitarian church when I was 24, having finally found a spiritual home and I left because we moved to a new city and the feeling of loss was too deep, too disconnected upon return for me to feel comfortable. In short, because I had lost I denied the very thing that would have likely helped me to heal, connect, and grow. I've been journeying around in an array of seeking in the past year, all sorts of hooey and loveliness and unknown that I myself don't know if I believe, but I've been looking for a map, hanging my heart on trying to divine how things will unfold, reaching back to work through hard things and looking forward to predict the future. Who knows if any of it is true, but it's something to think through and that in itself is valuable.
These days, the season of thresholds feels like it's coming to an end, after years of disarray and change and heartbreaking loss and difficulty, it feels like life is settling out. And yet, it's not. We fool ourselves with that thinking of calm, that chaos isn't balling itself up for another go at our lives. It's instructive that way, the call in the wee hours that a friend needs our love or that someone is leaving our life or that we ourselves just find us dragged behind the black dog of depression for even one day, knees skinned and tender, grown unused to the sudden tumble.
But what I've learned instead is not to fight the chaos and the change and the strife and the difficulty, but to live in the experience of it. When David was about to be born, I took a number of hypno-birthing classes so that I could hopefully remove myself from the pain of his delivery by envisioning a happier place somewhere sacred and beyond (with chocolate babka, but that's another story). But the truth was that I couldn't remove myself from where my body was, that only by reaching into the intensity and depth of that physical pain could I get through it.
And so I'm beginning to understand that that's what all of this is about, the transitions and waiting for life to calm down and even out and not feel like I'm deflecting lasers with my light saber. The truth is being in it, with whoever needs it, with myself clear about my own needs, with a sense of community that is big and robust and purposeful, with love and gratitude and sadness and the whole gamut of it all, is the beauty of life. Alive and giving, alive and conscious, alive and intentional. But alive and in it and not afraid and not tired and not waiting for life to begin anew, easier and more simple.
Because we are complex creatures living in a complex world. If you are going to engage, it gets messy. Put your boots on and get to work. Meet these times worthily, so as O'Donohue notes, "what we do is we heal the patterns of repetition that were in us that had us caught somewhere. And in our crossing then we cross on to new ground where we just don't repeat what we've been through in the last place we were. So I think beauty in that sense is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life."