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Friday, December 23, 2011
Vulnerabilty: An Attractive Quality
Here are more photos from a recent drive with my friend Barbara, the same location featured in yesterday's post. After visiting with another friend, we stopped at a little cafe for a bite to eat. B lives in Boston now so it is a wonderful treat when she comes back to NH for a visit. I so miss hanging out on the fly like we used to. Life changes, we all know that. On the way out the door of the restaurant, I noticed some nature photos on the wall that were clearly local. I wondered aloud if they were for sale. The underlying question being would they be interested in selling any of my photos there. Barbara asked the waitress...the waitress asked the owner of the place...Barbara stepped out to take a call on her cell phone...this man proceeded to tell me a story of miracles surrounding his purchase of the restaurant, about his mother who had blessed the place before she passed away, his home in Estonia, the grapes he brought over and planted here, how he believes that things are meant to be-connected-sacred, a special linden tree on the property, something about planting roses and how he loves the apple orchards that surround his new home, how the artist who took the photos was dying of cancer, and many, many details that at that point in the day I was so tired, I have to admit I cannot remember. Eventually, (20 minutes later) he mentioned that maybe someday he would be interested in selling some of my photos. Not now. And he wished us a Merry Christmas. We returned the greeting without mentioning that we don't celebrate Christmas, we're Jewish--it was offered from a place of love for humanity in both directions. (This is something that used to drive my kids crazy when they were little. They had to tell everyone! "We don't celebrate Christmas, except when we go to Grandma's, our Daddy's mother...we're Jewish, we celebrate Chanukah" followed by "Mom why does everyone tell us 'Merry Christmas'?" I grew up in times and a place where you just returned the greeting with a smile...it wasn't worth the prostelyzation that might follow from a stranger concerned about my soul if I bothered to explain. I'm glad people are generally more hip to diversity now-a-days for the sake of my kids...for the sake of ALL kids! Not everyone celebrates Christmas. If you do, I wish you a very happy one though.)
Anyway, this kind of thing happens to me fairly often when I go out in public, which is pretty rare these days; I tire so easily. People talk to me about miracles, about God...strangers in restaurants, waiting rooms at doctor’s offices, taxi drivers, people of all different religions. They don't know anything about me, except that I need to use a wheelchair sometimes, or that I have a bit of a limp when I'm not in the chair, I shake a little and look like I could topple, that my voice is unusual, sometimes dysarthric, sometimes accented. They don't know that I felt called to offer spiritual direction and that my teachers blessed me and said, "yes, you are ready"...yet somehow these individuals must sense something, because I sit and listen as they pour out their hearts to me. Maybe they talk this way to everyone? I'm not so special really, but I do find it fascinating that since I was diagnosed with MS, this happens with greater frequency than at any other time in my life. (And this has happened for years intermittently!) Maybe there is something about being visibly broken that draws out this longing to open up and talk about loneliness, miracles, holiness. Maybe my illness makes it safe? I'm clearly vulnerable now, it is pretty obvious as soon as I start to move. Perhaps this is a signal that it is ok to soften, and allow their pain wrapped in sacred mystery to flow? When we were younger, my husband used to tease me, calling me a "weirdo magnet" because I have often seemed to attract people with all kinds of troubles...and I have a hard time ending a conversation (the one sided kind in which a stranger corners me and talks for 20 minutes about their troubles or their deeply held spiritual views) I just sit there and listen. I always have. Anyway, these photos were taken after listening to this man from Estonia's very personal story of pain, faith, survival and miracles.
It is an honor to simply be a listening presence...exhausting sometimes, but an honor. Afterwards I always feel blessed. Something precious has happened that there are no words for. Finding this beautiful marsh to photograph in the waning light on our drive back to my house allowed for inner silence as cars rushed past. I am grateful to my dear friend Barbara, for her patience as I balanced against the side rail on the road to capture what I was feeling in these photos. Blessed by friends, blessed by strangers. Blessed.
I had an MRI this morning. It has been six months since I started on Gilenya. Time to get some images and see what my CNS is up to. Hopefully if there are any visible changes, they will be of shrinking inactive scars, and not new ones. I pray the blessings continue. I trust that they will, one way or another.
Close your eyes. Exhale. Inhale. Open your eyes. What are you grateful for in THIS moment? Open the link to my email and type in your message of gratitude. I will add it to this year's Gratitude Word Quilt. Come back and visit my blog on December 31, 2011 to experience the fullness of gratitude so many people are feeling. I currently have 106 quilt squares gathered from thankful people around the world, and would love to hear from YOU too!