She was older but not elderly, a slight figure in a long, dark coat; outdated large-framed eye-glasses & warm house shoes. I was going into an office building and it was cold and she had just put out a cigarette. She held the door open for me, mumbling to herself but also maybe she meant it for me. I thought she might be a little crazy, maybe an artist. I ran into her again the same day, and she hesitated, then turned to me and invited me to an annual silent meditation held in her home. Quirky and wise, I decided, looking into her knowing eyes. The kind the seeking turn to for help. The kind of person I’d trust to ask for advice.
Three weeks later I waited apprehensively in my car outside her home, watching a trickle of women making their way up her driveway. As I neared the door, a yellow post-it note came into focus with a scrawled message, “Come in!” Inside- warmth, cookies, hot tea, the color red. Not cool red with blue tones, but red with a touch of fire.
The living room had a feeling of the ancient power of the feminine. Sitting in a half-circle, talking and laughing, a group of women, all old enough to be my mothers. They were fat, thin, smokers & non, ethnic, caucasian, marmish, stylish, gay, straight. I sat in a flowered pattern straight-back chair, that familiar pooling of pain in my center. I could not focus on their words– just their eyes, which held clarity, a tinkle of laughter, a strength of something unknown to me. At some point, bullet-holes of pain had ripped them through, but here they were; smiling, probably bearing some badass battle scars.
I am aware of the basic things you’re supposed to do in meditation, but as the room grew quiet I was actually having a hard time breathing, so I decided to just concentrate on sipping mint tea and look at the floor. I felt safe, bolstered by strength of the meditating women around me, and allowed my thoughts to wander all over the place. Someone came in late and made a ridiculous racket settling down, dropping things out of her purse and grunting. I pondered the numerous Christmas decorations and high-quality of a red rug on the floor and the wall. One of the patterns looked quite phallic.
One of the things about a loss is, it attaches all other losses to it. Losing a job, a pet, a loved-one, a rejection, separation, suddenly the chain of loss is too heavy, and that last one just blows you away like a nuclear blast. One morning you wake up and realize your only goal is for most of the cereal to make it into the bowl, pour the milk, and get a spoonful into your mouth.
If my grief was going to kill me right then and there, I was in the right place. For the first time in a long while, I allowed myself to say, “I may not make it! I may just not make it.” I sat with that thought for a bit and then realized I was really hungry. I got up and ate a meal’s worth of cheese and crackers and drank more tea until I felt better.
I thought about that annoying, ill-used phrase “everything happens for a reason.” Even though my response is “and shit happens,” my jaded-self
reminded me from my own experience, every messed-up, shitty thing, can. eventually…be used for good.
“Unless we have experiences to meet that make us seek deeper for understanding, reach higher for light, we do not develop our spiritual nature.”