Check, One, Two . . .
Is this thing on?
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I needed some time. Some space. I had to learn the hard way that when you take to painting your emotions all over the internet – when you crack your heart wide open and provide whoever wishes one an inside view at the goriest year of your life – you can create a false sense of intimacy and a level of expectation that you weren’t really planning on. While I’m not new to blogging (this is actually my third blog), I am new to this brand of vulnerability with acquaintances and strangers and I was starting to feel less like a naked sleepwalker and more like a flesh-picked carcass on the side of the road.
Don’t get me wrong – heavens please don’t – I love this space, this story, this work, this path. But just as much as I love the conversations and connections that have sprung from it, they can also feed into my people-pleasing, codependent, tendencies – which means they can make me sick again if I don’t pull back every now and again and take stock. Confirm that I am doing the next right thing for me and God and no one else.
Which all feels tremendously selfish – but is also a critical piece of my healing.
About two weeks into this little hiatus I remembered something I wrote when I started this blog – that I would not promise to write at any particular interval. I needed to come back home to that promise. I needed to remember that its okay for me to process quietly, to keep some things close to the vest until I have my head around them. I had to remember that no one is owed the next chapter earlier than I am prepared to share it – regardless of how gracious they have been with their assistance on this road.
I needed to come back home to my heart.
And four weeks later, here we are.
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The truth of the matter is that while it is one thing to plop down my medical records and discuss what I find to be an unsatisfactory reflection in the mirror, it is quite another to bare the real focal points of my healing to the world. We are now nine months out from chemotherapy. Three-quarters of a year. Yet my healing continues. This surprises even me, and I needed some time to get my head around the true gravity of the trauma that I am processing. For everyone who receives a diagnosis, cancer is a tangle of physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental trauma that does not unravel itself automatically upon the culmination of chemotherapy or with the receipt of “normal” scans and numbers. Believe me when I say that each of us wishes it were that easy. Believe me also when it say it’s simply not.
But even knowing this, I was unprepared for what would await me on the other side of chemo. Once I acknowledged my disease as an emotional and energetic one, a whole lot more work laid itself before me. As one of my healers explained, in these cases its not enough to cut the tree down by chopping its trunk – its necessary to dig out each and every tiny root.
Have you ever tried to pull a weed, and found yourself amazed at the intricacy of its root network?
Welcome to my world.
I needed to sit quietly with that root ball that desperately needed excavating and ready myself for presenting it to the world. Because that is part of my work. Its something I surely plan to do. But I needed to sit for a bit before we went there together.
I needed some rest, to breathe. To be.
I needed a few weeks to sit in that work alone with God.
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A few days after I decided to pause, the concept of liminal space plunked into my world. As with most things I am required to take notice of, this subject fell into my lap three times. Once was in the form of the words of Father Richard Rohr, and rather than try to define the idea for you, I’ll share a piece of what Father Richard wrote in the devotional I happened upon:
We keep praying that our illusions will fall away. God erodes them from many sides, hoping they will fall. But we often remain trapped in what we call normalcy—“the way things are.” Life then revolves around problem-solving, fixing, explaining, and taking sides with winners and losers. It can be a pretty circular and even nonsensical existence.
To get out of this unending cycle, we have to allow ourselves to be drawn into sacred space, into liminality. All transformation takes place here. We have to allow ourselves to be drawn out of “business as usual” and remain patiently on the “threshold” (limen, in Latin) where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible. It’s the realm where God can best get at us because our false certitudes are finally out of the way. This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy. The threshold is God’s waiting room. Here we are taught openness and patience as we come to expect an appointment with the divine Doctor.
This is the space where I currently reside. And perhaps that is why I needed to pause. I opened my eyes, looked around, and rather than finding a new world to take in, I discovered myself to be straddling two worlds, or perhaps more accurately, I found myself to be not particularly anywhere. I am very much “betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown.” But what’s more, while in the past I would have scurried frantically for the door that would permit me to escape this uncertainty – to grab on to anything that appeared solid and hold tight – I am in no particular rush to leave. Maybe this is the patience Father Richard speaks of – for there is certainly a deep knowing that I am waiting for the Divine. For His next right step to reveal itself. And I need not rush in hopes of discovering it.
I hear Him whispering over and over, “patience, my child.”
His timing – not mine.
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Last week a long-forgotten fact came back to the forefront – in seven year’s time, every cell in our bodies will have regenerated such that no physical piece of us will be what exists today.
This got me thinking to some of the experiences I am healing from. The roots I am digging up. And about how so many of them occurred far more than seven years ago. A time that this physical form never inhabited.
It also got me thinking about what is to come – where I will be seven years down the line. About the roots that will regrow where those traumas once dug in. About all the lessons I am learning as those new roots stabilize. What it means to trust, to love. The real nature of grace, gratitude, generosity. How it feels to respond rather than react, to wait patiently rather than hurriedly force, to sink into the joy of a smaller, quieter, life.
But the soil has to be tilled for those new roots to thrive.
And so I will continue to dig.
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So here I am, back at the keyboard. But this time with a warning for you, dear loves. I sit here writing you from God’s waiting room. From a place full of so much space and light that words at times escape. Maybe they haven’t been created yet or maybe I won’t know which to choose until my appointment time arrives. While we spent thirteen months together navigating something of a known quantity – a disease – if you choose to continue to the next chapter I cannot guarantee what you will find. All I can promise is to share what it means to live in this liminal space – what it means to patiently wait.
All I can promise it to continue to speak the truth of the love of the Divine and the magic that exists in what sometimes appears to be a brutally cruel world.
So what do you say?
Check, one, two.