This morning my family gathered together to write my father’s obituary and order of service for his memorial. After a while, we took a break and I walked outside with my niece and spotted a huge Sycamore leaf. It was the biggest one at first we could see and then it became a competition on who could find the largest one of all. We searched a long time and when we were convinced we had discovered the most sizeable one we began looking for the smallest one. This was harder because we had to look under, beside and move other leaves to find the smallest. Finally, we believed we had the tiniest Sycamore leaf in the yard.
It was another busy day with people visiting, numerous phone calls, memorial service being organized, visiting the florist, and other errands. In the hustle and bustle of things, a family must do when one they love has passed it’s hard to find the peace one desires. The big things, the things which must get done are easy to find, it’s the small things; the glimpses of hope, the good memories, times when the good of a life well-lived shines in the darkness of a loved one parting.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Saint John, chapter 1
Under Control –
Last week I wrote about raking leaves and how this ongoing chore is a part of the changing of the seasons; “Leaving Tomorrow Be“ (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/10/29/leaving-tomorrow-be/).
Today I was at it again. Same sections of the yard, same rake, same music playing in my ear buds, the same piles, except different, albeit still brown, leaves. Again, similar to last week, the wind was blowing so even as I raked more leaves were falling on the ground. Still, it was therapeutic; raking and burning.
While doing the chore I thought about my week. Lots of internal changes have been occurring at work. Changes which cannot be avoided and are necessary for our team to continue helping the families and communities we serve. However, as noted by me many times on this blog before, I don’t like change. My severe anxiety disorder goes into hyperdrive when multiple changes occur in a short amount of time. My preference is rhythm, order, a familiarity, which helps bring balance to my life and peace to my mind.
As I raked the leaves today and watched more fall in their place, I was reminded that life is never controllable, never truly ordered, not actually familiar, we simply fool ourselves into thinking there is rhythm. We like to think we’ll get everything organized and under control only to stand powerlessly by as the wind blows, dropping more leaves on a briefly clean yard; a symbol that nothing in the life is ever settled, predictable and under our control.
Rest and Suffering –
Yesterday afternoon, on my way back from an out-of-town meeting, I passed a delivery truck. Its hood was up, flashers on, obviously broke down and not going anywhere. What caught my attention was the driver. He was laying down in a shady spot, one arm for a pillow and the other holding a cellphone and talking. He wasn’t nervously pacing, angrily kicking tires, yelling into the phone. If he could’ve fixed the truck I am sure he would have. If there was a way to deliver his goods he would’ve completed his goals for the day. Instead, he was resting because there wasn’t anything else to do but wait.
I struggle following this man’s example. I like rhythm, order, control. I don’t like surprises, detours, or delays. There is certainly a part of that which comes from having a Severe Anxiety Disorder. Mapping out the day so it can be more easily managed is part of my therapy. However, I also believe it’s very human to want control, to get things done in a timely manner, to feel like our lives are not always a random gathering of happenstance.
Wisdom teaches us that the distance between acceptance of what happens every moment and our expectation of what should happen every moment is where suffering is found. Knowing how to rest in the unplanned, perhaps even unwanted, experiences of life is one of the toughest and most valuable lessons we can learn.
Come Out & Play –
Ever feel life is similar to this poor Giant Panda Bear (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_panda) staff member? You’re doing everything you can to keep your life neat and orderly, to do what you need to do, and forces beyond your control are conspiring against you to keep it from happening.
Watching this video I couldn’t help but feel sorry and empathize with the zoo keeper. I’ve been there. On good days, when my Clinical Depression and Severe Anxiety are kept at bay, I’m able to accomplish what I set my mind to do. However, on those days when my D&A decide to run wild it takes everything I’ve got to get the simplest project done or task completed.
Those days when Depression and Anxiety; “come out to play” and wreak havoc I do my best to remember tomorrow, or some day soon, they’ll stay away long enough for life to regain a semblance of order and serenity.
#EndtheStigma of #MentalHealth