As I sit to write this column, a nasty mix of bacteria and viral germies has taken up residence in this body of mine. Throat tender, nasal passages inflamed and full, head fuzzy, temperature high, energy low. Yep, I am sick. After a few days of denial, I surrender and do so fully. Rather than a whinin’ and carryin’ on about feeling bad, I choose to greet this experience with a radical acceptance and a radical trust.
Radical acceptance means that I receive what comes my way fully and without rancor, even when it’s not to my liking. It means that I greet life with a humility born of the knowledge that I can not fully fathom the ways or judge the specifics of the highly complex and ultimately unknowable universe we live within.
Radical trust, however, calls me to place my bets on that universe being a benevolent one in which good exists in everything, even that which seems completely devoid of virtue. This type of trust is not passive. In fact, recognizing my part in the whole brings with it the awareness that I, too, can have an effect. It compels me to take every sliver of darkness I encounter and bend it toward the Light.
As a psychotherapist, I sit daily with folks who have lived through various forms of hell. Some have survived actual wars, while the wounds others sustained came at the hands of those who cared, or should have. While an important part of healing is raging against wrongs done, at some point one must say yes to the pain. Only in this way can energy be freed for healing. Only in this way can darkness be turned toward Light.
This does not mean that a person who accepts the pain of childhood abuse is condoning what was done to them, or that someone sorely affected by our current economic crisis won’t join with others to press for a politics not dominated by greed. It does mean, however, that they must embrace their experience fully and take responsibility for their own healing. It means they need to reach down through their pain to that core that remains whole and healthy, despite their wounds.
They must open to the possibility~~no, the likelihood~~that they can create a thing of beauty from their devastation. Like the mythological phoenix, they can rise from their own ashes and fly once again.
Obviously, finding some good in a streptococcus infestation and its head cold sidekick is a darn sight easier than all that! But nothing is wasted in this journey. By exercising my acceptance and trust muscles in this small way, I reinforce the benefits gained from wounds already healed and rehearse for the challenges that lie ahead. Plus, I make things so much easier for myself in the present.
So today, I willingly abandoned my previous plans in deference to my body’s needs. I take my medicine and drink voluminous amounts of hot tea with lemon and cayenne. I consume bowls of warming soup morning, noon and night.
Just like the trees outside my window, my sap moves down into my roots. And I rest. A soothing rhythm envelops me. One healing moment weaves into the next, comforting me, buoying me, restoring me.
No, it was not my choice of how to spend these few days. But it is good nonetheless.
Blessings on this new year and blessing to each of you as well!
PS. No worries! As I post this, I am returning to full health.
PPS. Someone gifted me this video and I pass it on to you. It is 7 minutes well spent.