“[Stories]…invite me to ask myself where is the truth, light, healing, joy, compassion, the energy, the connection in this story, in my reaction to this story. Where is the aversion, the fear, anger, hatred, sadness, separation, judgment, confusion in this story? Where is God hiding in these stories, in daily life, in resistance, struggles, relationships, twists and turns of choice and chance? Where is the light hidden---the light that was hidden in all matter after creation, the sparks of the divine? I ask these questions to create space to wait and listen. I do not need to do anything with these stories. The stories will reveal me to myself. The stories will reveal everything." ~Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg
On Friday morning, Barbara drove me to Derry for my infusion but could not stay long this time. Viv and Eve met us there. They sat with me, kept me company through the three attempts to get that tiny catheter into an uncooperative rolling, Kevlar veins (wait am I whining? Don’t answer that). This daughter and mother who feel like family shared stories, massaged my hands, offered a guided relaxation, ate cookies and pudding from the gentleman in the chair next to me (he was diabetic-the nurses offered all the patients a boxed lunch with a roast beef sandwich, I said “no thank you, I’m a vegetarian” the nurse suggested turkey…Eve, Viv and I looked at each other bemused…I replied “that’s ok, no thanks”) we three intergenerational friends exchanged love… for three and a half hours they hung out and it was wonderful. My friends are so dear, even after all these months of illness, still volunteering to give me rides and Gordon time to focus on work from home without distraction (and to be with Belin if she needed anything as her nerve pain has been flaring again keeping her home from school all week-another story…).
Kindness does not surprise me, but the abundance of generosity somehow always does. After a longer infusion then normal, they drove me home, in the complete opposite direction from their own house. They live a good hour-twenty minutes + north of us. We sat some more, my energy waning but joyfully buoyed by their presence, this time gathered around my kitchen table snacking and continuing the uninterrupted thread of our now four hour conversation, waiting for Rosie to come home so Eve could say goodbye (as she’s off to Chile for a semester abroad and won’t be here for Rosie’s Bat Mitzvah…she wanted especially to give Rosewillow a hug and a gift). My heart widened with delight as Rosie brought in the mail and I saw it. Another package I had been waiting for. I could tell from the soft lumps exactly what was inside. I had guests and daughters to attend to and a soft bed waiting for my tired body. The parcel would have to wait.
Women in village coops in Nepal cut these jewel colored ribbons from old saris; each quarter inch strip of cloth is tied end to end beginning to beginning. Smooth and flat in the center with randomly fringed edges of fine silk threads. These individual strands, not quite free, but extending from the body of cloth, have no choice but to become entwined into a web, much like the stories I hear in my mind. Stories remembered. Stories embellished. Stories invented. A single story that is never separate, never alone. A ribbon of my history interlaced with a ribbon of my parents’ histories
my friends’ humanity’s.
They all clump together in a jumbled, lovely mass of color and texture, a work of art, life telling itself into being. But sometimes this disorderly mess feels heavy in my heart, fiercely complicated, frustrating, confusing, overwhelming. At these moments I feel compelled to discern what is true. What is true for me? What is true for them? But this just serves to knot me up more. Observing this, I wonder: is it necessary, important, possible to separate this web of silk sari ribbon stories? Perhaps it is best to see them as they truly are: enmeshed. A story.
I have gently begun the process of teasing the sari ribbon apart again, because I do want it to be useful, even though it’s destiny has yet to reveal itself to me. The kitchen table philosopher in me says, “The ribbons have already been useful, served their purpose in unearthing these thoughts, in the writing of this blog post, in the beauty of these photos, in their own brilliant splendor. This is enough, leave it just so.” But the practical (yes there is a part of me that is occasionally practical) demurs, “Don’t be ridiculous there is more life in this ribbon than that. Besides, you can’t just leave it in a mishmash on the bed for the cats to tear up nor can you of good conscience leave them stuffed in the bottom of a plastic bag.” Curiosity and common sense won out. So with meditative deliberation, (this time) I shall slowly, consciously, carefully, continue the untangling process of the silk ribbon, leaving the stories in my heart and yours to grow, flow and inspire on their own.