This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning
John O’Donohue, from To Bless the Space Between Us
This poem by one of my most beloved poets showed up on a favorite blog yesterday. It brought me to tears. Lie low to the wall until the bitter weather passes.
This last week has been so, so hard. Not just the weather here in northern Michigan, where we have dealt with ridiculously low temperatures and two feet of new snow in the last 7ish days, but in all areas of my life. All the black boxes have been ticked off at some point: disappointment, discouragement, despair, exhaustion, outrage. I’m all in.
Saturday was the final straw for me. I could feel my tender heart breaking in half, and every part of me screamed, “That’s it!”
After a challenging morning with my mother, I went over to my house to shovel the drive. I was anticipating that it would take a while cuz I hadn’t been over there all week and we have gotten a crapload of snow, as mentioned previously.
What I discovered when I got there, however, could not have been anticipated. Someone had plowed up a 6-foot tall, 3-foot deep wall of snow at the end of my driveway all the way across. I was completely flummoxed. So angry I could hardly breathe, and so distressed and confused I couldn’t think. After 15 minutes of sitting in my car in the road freezing, I finally decided to call the police. I don’t know either of my neighbors and was too angry to speak to either of them about this.
A very young policewoman finally showed up about 45 minutes later. By then I had shoveled the part of the driveway I could – from the wall up to the house. She spoke to one of my neighbors and got the name and phone # of her plow guy, and called him. He said he didn’t think it was his fault, but he’d stop by and take a look later and if he thought one of his employees had done it, he’d plow it out, if not, I was on my own. The policewoman told me this and said there was really nothing more she could do. Good luck. See you later.
I write a lot about community and kindness and about staying in the moment and surrendering to things outside of my control. I believe all those things I write about. This week has put it all to the test, and I still believe those things. But, man, it’s been hard.
There were good things, and they are what I’m hanging on to:
- I met one of my new neighbors. It was an unfortunate way to meet, but she was very kind and I’m happy to know she’s there now. Her name is Martha. She’s older, perhaps late 60s, or early 70s. She’s a Mennonite. She was very apologetic, even though in no way was this her fault, obviously. I appreciated her kindness and understanding, and it instantly made me feel better.
- An older man in a huge black truck stopped on the road while I was shoveling and asked if I was alright. He offered to help, but by that point I had already shoveled what I could, and the police were there. He didn’t have a plow on that big truck, unfortunately, but just the fact that he took a moment to see if he could help – a complete stranger just passing by – mended a piece of my heart.
- I recognized I was too upset and angry to speak to people. So instead of marching up to Martha’s door or to the neighbor on the other side and ranting, which is something I most definitely would have done when I was young, I waited until I could think of something better to do. The policewoman was a disappointment, but she tried, and it was better than confronting people I don’t know with a huge chip (wall of snow) on my shoulder. That’s how people get shot, right? So, good all the way around.
- I’m able to realize that in the grand scheme of human suffering none of the crap I was hurt by or upset about this week was very important. I’ve been saying to myself over and over this too shall pass. So true. In this morning’s meditation my focus was on letting go.
- Though I was feeling pretty sorry for myself in the 15 minutes in my car before I decided what to do Saturday, it passed and I got up and did what needed to be done, in the words of Garrison Keillor. (Man, I miss that show. PowderMilk Biscuits – I could use one of those right now!) A friend said to me one time, if no one else will feel sorry for you, sometimes you just have to do it for yourself. I did, and then I let it go.
So, that’s not it. I’m not all in. I’m not done. There’s more to me than that. Good to know.
Still, I’m going to lie low to the wall for awhile. Until I find my feet again on fresh pastures of promise. Lick my wounds, and piece my heart back together. Patch it up, as I’ve done so many times before, and will again, I’m sure. That’s just the way life is. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I’m getting stronger and smarter all the time, and that’s a good thing.
Here’s hoping this week is better: where the air will be kind, and blushed with beginning. Monday is a good day to start again.
And again, and again. As many times as necessary.