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multiple blessings

floodroofA few days ago Carole, a fellow-blogger, retold the story of the man sitting on his roof top, watching the flood waters rise. In desperation, he prayed for help. As the day unfolded, several rescuers came by, offering boats and helicopters to take him to safety.  Each time he refused, saying that god would save him. As night fell he prayed again, this time deploring the absence of divine intervention.  

At the time of reading, I chuckled … until yesterday, at 2:16 pm, when I realized that it was me sitting on the roof. For almost two years I’ve been lamenting the loss of the love of a woman (see: “how I learned to grieve” at the top of the screen). Having worked through the depths of grief, I felt grateful for an experience that had touched my heart so profoundly. Still, I continued to feel stuck, hoping (or “bargaining” in the grief cycle) that we’d be reunited at any day. I was convinced that the ingredients of this relationship–which included love, sex, art, family, Zen, and coming-home–were just too precious to occur more than once in a lifetime. Also, if I were to move on, I’d be defaulting in my promise to be faithful. 

Then it happened: in the dying minutes of the wrap-up session with a therapist who’d helped me sort out some childhood trauma, I mentioned that “there’s just one more thing” and described my stuck-ness, how rare and unexpected this love had been, how I’d waited a lifetime for it to come along, and how I’d credited the Divine for the intervention. lightbulb“And so it is with work at hospice,” I suddenly noticed, “who’d have thought I’d be called to do this wonderful work so late in life.” 

Zapp! In that moment bright insight flooded over me as if struck by lightening. You’ve been blessed twice, the voice said. First, to experience love beyond comprehension; second, to be called to hospice work, where a wounded heart and a capacity for compassion are your most valued assets. Not one but two miracles. Not either/or, but both.

3 responses »

  1. This is a wonderful story, Peter. And we all do this somewhere in our lives. With your working through of it, it makes me think of the “compassionate side of suffering,” where our suffering is painful (by definition) but it takes us somewhere we never would have gone without it. I always joke that I have to be dragged there kicking and screaming!

    Your writing reminds me of a story Uchiyama tells in “Opening the Hand of Thought” where a middle ages Japanese woman spends 20 years lamenting her family’s loss of wealth and her subsequent inability to practice art because of these circumstances. Finally he says to her, ” Your are thinking about this all wrong….Isn’t agonizing over things that don’t work out just the way you want them to, nothing but being dragged around by more fantasies?” (Those Zen masters don’t mince words) But it makes me think of where we do this everyday and as you beautifully and touchingly describe, we get it when we get it. We can’t rush it or make it happen. It is a turning in how we see things but it makes a world of difference. Thanks for this wonderful, deep sharing!

  2. Yikes, Carole. I’m still editing the post (those darn second languages) and already you’re reading and commenting. Thank you for your kind words … and your expansion.

    I’m off to treat myself to saturday morning breakfast and will surely ruminate on your words … and continue to marvel at the beauty of breaking out of dualistic thinking.

  3. …that is pure awesome, peter…


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