“Never had she danced so beautifully; the sharp knives cut her feet, but she did not feel it, for the pain in her heart was far greater.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid
Life is like a dream, and it is also like a book.
I dare say I like it when life’s seemingly insignificant moments come together, forming patterns, and a lesson can be drawn therein – as if the Creator created the universe, and time, specifically, for each of us. But I find life’s mysteries and their unraveling fascinating, not just because they are central to who we are as individuals, but to who we are as a humanity. We are in this life together, like it or not.
Unstable people might also find meaning in every day things, but it’s not this fact that makes them crazy, for everything does have meaning. Even in mental disorders, according to Jung, lies a secret order, and in all chaos, a cosmos. I dare say by contrast, I find those who don’t find meaning in anything, perhaps not crazy – but not that bright, either.
For what makes the delusional who do find meaning in everything deluded, is that they dare to assume what the meaning of these things are, as if they are God, and personally infallible.
For me, I simply like to ponder mysteries that don’t end, and such mysteries, fortunately, are really quite abundant. Spiritual mysteries are, in fact, way too big and plentiful for anyone to understand completely, this side of the grave. But moreover, I like to ponder how, if a Divine Being would so supernaturally order the universe, to put mysterious parable, or infinite pattern, into each of our very small lives – so that our souls can mature – this must mean that this Creator is all good and all powerful, even when we don’t understand the bigger picture that His puzzles present.
Perhaps life is less about finding out who we are, and more about finding out who the I Am – is.
And maybe knowing the created, and knowing what created the created, is somewhat interchangeable. Because to find out about anything created, one has an advantage if first one finds out – what purpose for it – the designer, he or she, had in mind. I have learned this lesson the hard way, from perusing Lowe’s hardware department – only to come home with a “tool wardrobe” that only makes me look like Rosie the Riveter – while rendering all my renovation aspirations into renovation limbo.
Stay with me here.
Yesterday was rough.
First of all, I have a problem with the repetitive mundane, and a lack of self discipline exacerbated by loneliness. I become increasingly aware of my shortcomings and limitations, as well as arthritic pain, when I force myself into some marathon labor, on yet more renovations, started a very long time ago. I speak here of tasks that will not even grant sweet, artistic satisfaction – until I’m entirely done.
“The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.”
― Hans Christian Andersen
Yesterday, exhaustion fell upon me as early and inevitably as the dusk, and it was exhaustion made deeper and more complex by reoccurring memories of a human love I had once found – but now, had lost. I felt heavy with not only physical, but emotional weariness, which had been mitigated briefly while I busied myself, but come to fruition in the night, in high definition, highly sensitive person fashion. So I sank into the old and weathered-but-welcoming sofa in my living room, next to a coffee table that I had managed to refurbish, and in fact graced with laptop, pen and paper, and a glass of Merlot, self-served in a crystal wine glass – because I, at least, should love myself.
Now, I won’t ruin it for those of you who peruse movie channels regularly, for new releases capable of entertaining (or at least distracting, for awhile) – but who don’t regularly get your hopes up to this end, because you are smarter than a strawberry.
I won’t ruin it for you, in case you haven’t yet seen American Fable, by telling you how this movie ends. Suffice it to say, last night I watched, on my laptop – placed upon that refinished coffee table – a palatable and pleasing tale, about a little girl who risks everything, including her family, to do the right thing and help save an old man – imprisoned in a silo – simply for being rich and powerful.
And then I fell asleep.
When I awoke, the rain which had come down earlier in the evening had stopped. I awoke disoriented, trying to assess my this-is-not-my-bedroom surroundings. I only found comfort and familiarity in my dogs, still dozing loyally beside me on the thick, fake bear rug I had placed below – to hide for the time being, unfinished floors.
Not every creature has left me, I noted with what I hoped was not bitterness, but gratitude.
Or perhaps the dogs had just been afraid of the thunder. This was more likely.
I was vaguely aware of a recent nightmare, but the physical pain I felt now was greater and more intense than merely attention consuming. I glanced with self-accusation at the empty wine glass, a migraine teasing at my temples, but this unfortunate, punitive severity paled in comparison to the pain as sharp as hot knives, shooting through both my arms and in particular, up and down both of my legs.
I had assumed it was arthritis.
I realized now, I didn’t know it to be arthritis.
I had felt compelled to play doctor. I had blamed – perhaps wrongly – my not so ensuring government insurance program (the kind that not-rich and not-so-powerful entrepreneurs like myself, are necessitated to use). I suddenly felt regret and even fear in this moment, such as that that derives from a long bout of personal losses, and an inadequate, self preservation plan.
Had I been like the schizoid, seeing only the meaning I wanted to see, in what I only sensed to be true?
I fumbled for my reading glasses and immediately googled the symptoms of fibromyalgia on my cell phone, each movement exacerbating the pain. I now read each symptom dutifully, feeling way too old for my young looking, fifty-one years. As I read these symptoms, what I didn’t want to know registered as true, with a corresponding emotional impact that seemed once again, to double and triple already unendurable pain.
Could it get any worse than this? Perhaps I should google bone cancer next.
At least I had had the foresight to pick up a spray bottle of something promising to be both icy and hot, the last time I had gone to the drug store, and if I could just be stubbornly tenacious, like Lazarus raising himself from the dead, I might extricate myself from the now not-so-comfortable couch. I could then, perhaps, after a generous application of analgesic (and two ibuprofen swallowed with something other than wine), settle into a more relieving and restful position, perhaps even post-meditative slumber, upstairs. But the searing, burning sensation in my legs must stop, before I could meditate, or contemplate anything – and sleep at all.
Oh Lord, please make this stop.
I prayed that angels of strength would strengthen me, for I was sinking fast. Melodramatic? Perhaps. But the intensity of this pain scared me, and I don’t scare easily anymore. If I cannot be reasonably well, I worried, how can I complete those tasks, even greater than my renovation projects, which God wants from me? Have I healed from so many traumas and shocks in my life, have I been shown so much discerning my true vocation, only to find God really intends for me a sickbed martyrdom, at this point in time?
I can’t believe His will for me is “just” immolation and offering of physical infirmities – despite not being exempt from this worthy path, through any merit of my own. Besides, I don’t want to burden my still rather young, adult children, and there would be no one left to tend to my side, pay my bills, or change my sheets, when I potty myself. (The dogs remain my dependents, not the other way around.)
But are these thoughts just another, I do not want to know? Or the evil one, intent on discouraging a dream?
“Brave soldier, never fear.
Even though your death is near.”
― Hans Christian Andersen, The Steadfast Tin Soldier
So upstairs, about an hour later, lying in bed, I felt both strangely cold, and strangely hot.
I had sprayed an awful lot of medication from the small metal bottle on my mostly stripped down body, standing as relatively upright as I could in the upstairs bathroom, and now stood in a puddle of it. Even the spray bottle slipped out of my hurting hand, clattering loudly against floor tiles, rolling somewhere unreachable. I could not endure the pain necessary to bend down and clean up the mess I had made, so I could not take precautions against slipping in the puddle the next morning – with preemptive housekeeping – those good habits of which Mother had warned me never to forego, when I was just a little girl.
But even after this self-dousing with medicated spray, I could not detect any lessening of pain, only an added, feverish twist. Now, as I pulled covers up, then off again, writhing in agony, I found someone had turned my mattress into a stone. Soon, I found myself trapped in that self-defeating loop, of trying too hard not to think about pain, trying too hard to drift into contemplation, and trying too hard to sleep. The magnitude and sharpness of pain filled up my mind, blocking everything else out, and I imagined a bleak, fibromyalgic future, the pain leading to sleeplessness, which would lead, in turn, to anxiety and depression. I had read that commonly happens, thanks to google and my cell phone. What then? What’s next? I cannot do this alone.
The limit of my endurance had broken, and I started to cry.
Nothing less than God can satisfy us.
– Julian of Norwich
Then I noticed the morning birds singing.
And it was just starting to get light outside.
Casting my eyes upwards, head extended back against the pillow, I stopped crying for a moment, and looked up at the same brilliant moon that I had seen almost every other night, through the window which rose up behind my head board. It was a moon which now peeked out from behind a brilliantly patterned, green underside of a canopy of leaves, on the giant tree which grows very close to the side of the house. I must have fallen somewhat into a dream state, because I heard myself silently talking to God about my place of business, my soul speaking some spiritual language that we both seemed to understand.
This is my woods.
I see that it is… I long to sweep you up, into my arms.
And finally, half awake, I noticed my pain had slightly diminished, replaced with an even stronger, burning sensation. It was a feeling of longing I have felt quite occasionally in my life, and it transcends everything else here on earth, even physical pain. I wanted to go home. I was homesick.
I do not know for certain that my birth was accompanied by a near death experience, but I remember, in a vague way, that other home, that better place outside of time, where the Bright Light, the Presence, is, and the angels reside. It is a home I remember forsaking only to help undo whatever my mother had done – so that she could continue to live with me, and the rest of my family there.
I loved her so much, as I still do now. But my mother has grown old in this life, I too am tiring, and I long for what I can’t quite remember in fullness here below. I am not suicidal, but I’ve longed for that Someone and that Place with all of my heart, in times such as these, but also in times of great joy.
Child, do you not know? You never left My side.
In that moment, in my bed, it felt like if God allowed me to remember heaven more fully, my soul would detach from my body right then and there, and go to Him. He would, indeed, sweep me up in His arms. I imagined at least, He was giving me this option.
But what about my children?
The longing was something so ecstatically sweet, it hurt – but it was not pain like sharp knives in the legs. It was a burning of the heart I cannot explain adequately. The only thought that could prevent me from entirely succumbing to it, was the thought of my adult children, and the grief they would feel if I were suddenly dead. This thought grounded me in that moment – with sorrow, compassion and love for them. I even shuddered to imagine my dogs, who would sleep faithfully until they starved to death, beside my already dead corpse. For what are our lives worth, if not opportunities to sacrifice for others?
And isn’t it more fitting that a parent give her life and sufferings for her children, and the caregiver care for the creature, than the other way around? So, in that moment, I offered to God my pain (which was now re-surging) and the rest of my life for my children. I also offered up these things for all those God might want me to assist on this earth by way of love, even as I had once, as an infant soul, come to life – for my mother. And perhaps there was another human love, that I wouldn’t get to love, if I let God take me now.
I don’t remember when I fell asleep again.
But in the dreams that soon followed, I heard voices speaking over me, talking about how I needed emergency surgery.
It is her third emergency surgery.
No, she has already had five.
The human love I had lost was somewhere in that room, and a doctor’s assistant with a silent angel’s voice was asking him, will you care for her (meaning, will he care for me)? My former love shook his head. He looked irritated and tired. No, I have to work to do. He was an important, hardworking man, and he too, had recently been sick.
The feminine voice hovered over me again, telling me “they” could get me on his father’s insurance plan.
No, I have to see my son, my former love answered, now offering a different excuse, and one successfully silencing me – because I wouldn’t question his parental love.
But wasn’t this disordered, if his son was fine, and my life was in danger?
And even in my dream, I recalled that this man had blamed me for his own illness, as if love was counter-indicated for good health, rather than what God intended to help heal and set people free. But in fairness, Former Love could have been trying to say that his only business in the world was to exist for the sake of his children. Was he an analogy for God?
No, clearly, he was not God. This was the man who had broken my heart and abandoned me, not the Bridegroom of my soul, who had done neither of these things.
So I wondered, in the dream (because I am ever logical) how could it be true that I could get on his father’s insurance, if we were not even married? How convoluted and dark this dream has become, I thought. I was somehow aware that I was dreaming, but able to stay asleep.
Then I saw his father in the dream, who was older, unshaven, and surprisingly rather disheveled looking, even though he still wore a suit, as if he too, had recently endured a lot of pain or abuse. In fact, he looked strangely like the same man from the movie I had watched the preceding evening, who was imprisoned in a farm silo for many months, simply for being rich. Now this kind, gentle man was in my dream, sitting alone in untidy clothing in a hospital, or some kind of waiting place, but looking relaxed now, as if in secret, he really owned the place.
You can be on my insurance, he intuited to me directly, without speaking a word, not because he is my son, but because you are my daughter.
I don’t remember the rest of the dream, but as I awoke the next morning, I had the brief sensation of being wheeled out on a gurney, through the exit doorway of a surgical unit, into a recovery area. I was slowly waking up in my dream, and in real life. I just had time before I woke up for real to notice a very small sign posted on the wall (in my dream) beside the surgery door through which I had just exited. So I sat up in the wheeled cot, straining to read it.
It said: I HAVE A PLAN.
And one more time, right before my alarm went off, and I sat up in my real bed, I heard an assistant’s voice, hovering over me, saying something like:
And it was then that I noticed my pain was almost gone.
There was one more dream I had, because, finally feeling more at peace and refreshed, I dosed off a bit longer. It was about tea. That’s all. A flash of rich imagery, tea leaves in one of those plastic baggies in which I usually store it, and a heady, sweet, herbal fragrance.