Be gentle with yourself

A few days ago I flew here to Florida to take care of my Mom as she faced some health issues. As I write it’s early morning. I was woken up a few minutes ago by the sound of my Mom’s slippered feet as they shuffle past my bedroom door on her way to the kitchen. It’s pill time. I can hear the pull tab on the tomato juice pop loose. I can hear the front door open and the plastic bag that houses the New York Times be discarded. I can hear the flicking of her Bic lighter as she lights her first cigarette.

As she begins another day, I lie here in a whirl of worry. Every sense alert. I never had children but I imagine this is the feeling parents have listening for the whimpers of a new born baby or waiting on a Saturday night to hear the car pull up the driveway delivering the teenager home safely. I am vigilant, keenly aware of my Mom’s every movement, falsely convinced my attention will make a difference.

But then I remember what I know about the mind. I take a deep breath and remember, ever so vaguely, that there is more than meets my senses. There is another level of reality that is often unseen but no less real. Yes, just as there are invisible laws of physics, there are spiritual principles, qualities and laws at work underneath and around everything.

I know there is more than meets the eye but the truth is, this morning, it is hard to experience, hard to feel, hard to believe in serenity and love and compassion in the midst of fear and worry and anxiety. As she turns up the volume on CNN, the physicality of the day-to-day screams far louder than the subtlety of patience and forgiveness.

But that’s okay. This morning, I know there is a bridge between my physical and spiritual life. I just don’t feel it. Today, I am not blessed with the relief that so often comes from a morning in meditative prayer. But, that’s okay. Someone, somewhere has my back.

For now, I am doing what I can do. Learning what I can. Being of service as much as I can, which often feels like not enough. These days are tough but many, like my dear ole Mom, have it far worse. I must be gentle with myself and just proceed.

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