There was a pause outside my window and then I heard a small reply, “I love you daddy.” She must have been three or four years old.
"I love you too,” the daddy said in response.
I didn’t realize I was holding my breath. I let go and took a shaky inhale and my eyes became misty as I felt something release—gratitude for lessons that show up in unexpected places.
* * * *
I had a birthday in mid February. For my birthday I gave myself a day pass to the Cavallo Point Healing Art Center and Spa in the Marin Headlands (just across the Golden Gate Bridge). I wanted to celebrate my birthday with quiet reflection. I began the day with my journal. Without conscious thought, I dated the journal entry, February 19, 1959 (my birth date)--that’s a weird slip of the pen, I thought. Later during my first meditation, a warm cocoon held me with such tenderness. I knew I was safe and all was well. However, as often is the case, bliss is the kiss that never lingers—I was filled with anxiety for what was coming next. Things began to move and change as I was pushed towards a door. I fought and resisted but was forced out—I couldn’t breathe, my fear was suffocating. Then, like a sunrise, I felt the Creator’s warm gaze on my red, angry and scared little face . . . and he said, “It is good.” My lungs gulped their first air. Back at the spa, I wondered who was watching, but didn’t care as a smile and tears appeared together--a birth-meditation for my birthday—gratitude for lessons that show up in unexpected places.
Later outside in the heated pool as I took in San Francisco Bay’s beauty; the Golden Gate Bridge—orange audacity poking through stormy clouds, beach grass, oak trees and sage scrub, grateful for a wet winter, dripping with green, and the Bay—the grand blue lady that birthed the rock and soil upon which it all this stands. My reverie was interrupted by rain. Everyone, except me, rushed inside. The splashes of cool raindrops on heated skin transported me. I rolled over on my back and began to float. I started to laugh with a body memory of the first time—feet slowly leaving the safety of gravity and surrendering to the mysterious buoyancy of water. I thought of the first time my brother let go of my bicycle—little legs on pedals that became wings. I couldn’t stop laughing at the miracle of surrender—of falling into something that catches you—gratitude for lessons that show up in unexpected places.
* * * *
A week after my birthday, I got the results of my quarterly blood work. After almost 30 years of these lab tests, the drum roll is more of a clock ticking. However, this time I felt compelled to call my doctor—as it turns out I am teetering on the edge of diabetes. It’s unclear whether it’s medication related, another HIV long-term survivor co-condition or whether the last few months of family stress has taken its toll. Some years ago I had to stop working because of related concerns. As I struggled to find a place to put this news, I ate a bag of potato chips, some homemade gougère (French pastries made of butter, eggs, cheese and flour—yum) and three Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups. What the #*%@?! After I cussed out my weak and pathetic self, a gentler voice prevailed, stop . . . be where you are. I sat down and tapped my phone for my meditation app. On cue, when the prayer bowl chime vibrated through my body, I began one of those ugly cries that include snot. It was simple—underneath the disturbing, distracting behavior, I was just plain scared and vulnerable. Once my truth was named and claimed, I had the feeling of my feet coming off the ground as I was held. And once I was heard, I faced my dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes and cardio with renewed determination—gratitude for lessons that show up in unexpected places.
* * * *
I rarely find God in the places I expect. She almost always is a surprise. Her presence takes my breath away and makes my heavy feet feel weightless. She waters my soul with either laughter or tears and sometimes both.
Daily Bites and Blessings
Welcome to "Daily Bites and Blessings." Pull up a chair. I’ve set a place for you at the table. These edibles are sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet and often they are both. This is a come as you are party. I invite you to bring your compassion, courage, and curiosity as we dine together on life's bounty. May our time together give us more light and more love.