Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the hidden place that heals

Over and over by us torn in two,
the god is the hidden place that heals again.
We are sharp-edged, because we want to know,
but he is always scattered and serene.

—Rainer Maria Rilke
from The Sonnets to Orpheus, XVI
Translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell

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It is Bright Wednesday, or at least the dying nub of Bright Wednesday, and I am finally sitting down to write. All day a cool, steady wind passed through the trees out my window. Each time I looked the sky and river changed color as if trying on different outfits: clouds once low and thin above choppy gray water, another moment green and heavy over gold glitter.

It was a productive day, both children (finally) back in school after a lingering spring break. And I finally began preparing for Genevieve's eye surgery for esotropia next week. By prepare I primarily mean prepare myself—I have already spent plenty of time preparing Genevieve. My habit is to focus on getting through all the unpleasantness and anxieties by clenching in and checking out during the difficult moments. I want to be done with it all and take off her bandages and have her eyes see straight. I want the healing well underway. Just like I want to be done with packing and saying goodbyes and sorting the keeps from the throw-aways. I want to plug through without engaging the uncertainties; pit-pat, all squared away. But I'm learning is that while this method might have worked well for me at one point in my life, and may still function OK at times, it certainly isn't helpful for my three-year-old. (And, surprise, surprise, it isn't great help to me either.)

Fear of engaging the present moment in favor of waiting for a more serene future moment is in essence living in fear. This literally means that my back is tense, my neck and shoulders clench, and my derriere is tucked in. I am trying to keep it all together by walking around stiff as a board. And what's more: no one can keep it all together anyway. Not even God. Isn't that what we learn during Holy Week? Today the Redeemer of the world is slapped on the face. Those lines from Holy Friday always catch in my heart. I have to ask myself, was Jesus walking around stiff as a board for thirty years, dreading his crucifixion? Wanting to get this being human thing over and done with? As I recall, he only allowed himself one night of that.

Over and over by us torn in two / the god is the hidden place that heals again. To be broken and feel my brokenness, to sit with uncertainty and accept it—this is part of the goal. But more importantly I am trying shift my focus away from the things I am dreading. To instead regard the whole situation with curiosity and gentleness. To remember that we are having this surgery now because we have an awesome doctor here, a surgeon who is an expert in this procedure. I can't be sure nothing will go wrong, but that small fear is only a small part of a much larger picture. The vast majority of things in my life, and in Geneveive's life, are going incredibly well. I know that hidden place that heals again, I've been there before. Now I just have to trust and live, breathe, through it. To be there—awake—for both of us.

{ p o e t r y  w e d n e s d a y }


Manuela said...

So beautiful, Amber. Thank you.
I pray all goes well with Genevieve's surgery.

Lynda B said...

And I'm happy this writing is a part of your anti-butt-clenching therapy. Presently is your dark Friday, but Sunday (with all it's relief and victory) IS surely a-comin'. And a daily revisit of your post is a good thing. Prayers said for surgeons' deft hands and quick healing. Love you.

mary said...

this is such a beautiful post and exactly what i needed to hear today... "that hidden place that heals again," wow, i love this. my favorite line of his is that "love is the work for which all other work is merely preparation"...

just catching up on some of your other posts. darwin is taking karate but i haven't hemmed his pants yet (: