Oh Earth School! The best laid plans of mice and men are but insignificant pieces of nonsense in your all knowing greater scheme of things!!
We have been exploring the second limb of yoga in my yoga classes this past month, the niyamas, the observances. Purity. Contentment. Discipline. Self Study and now Surrender with the intention of understanding how to navigate this life and at the same time, let go into the flow of life with some modicum of grace or at the very least, without always having toothpaste on your shirt. (One of my daily struggles.)
Surrender to God. I am relearning this constantly as something much deeper than the passive aggressiveness of the cliche “Let Go and Let God” which to me seemed like some evil form of hot potato where you can’t stand to even hold onto the undesirable long enough to know what it is and the nature of who you are passing it off to. This is also quite different from the equally passive aggressive practice of denial where we let it go by pretending it doesn’t exist and as in my family of origin you are left for decades dancing around the elephant in the room. Eventually, everyone just makes space for this giant being which can turn in a New York second into an albatross, weighing heavier by the years of unspoken guilt, shame and remorse.
I am relearning this constantly here on EarthSchool in many ways. One of which is through the enormous privilege of serving the dying through music. I obviously have to learn this often. I shared the experience in class the other day about surrendering into the big picture yet one more time. Some days, when I wear my hospice hat, I am often scheduling patients in their home and have a 3 county range. This is often challenging with timing and so on and have my days here carefully planned. The universe usually has other plans. So, one of these days with every minute planned, traveling down a country road, I end up behind a tractor for 25 miles. I was allowing this 35-40 minutes that shifted my schedule to absolutely ruin my entire life, alternating trying to ground and breath with cursing out the oblivious farmer. I get to my patient’s house in a tizzy and thankfully, this lesson hit home pronto. I am obsessing about 45 minutes. Here is someone whose breaths are numbered. Clearly I can get over this miniscule interruption to remind myself of the bigger picture. That our life is a gift. each day, each breath is a privilege and a gift. Surrendering into the mystery.
Living in Africa, specifically in Guinea for one month, this was a constant lesson. Guinea is the land of ultimate surrender. African time is its own thing! Broken down vehicles while traveling with unknown, extended waits along interesting roadways was a common occurance. I learned that I could go with the flow and surrender into this and every unexpected situation as long as I could buy water and snacks (in the land of everyone is a street vendor this can happen literally anywhere) pee in someone’s yard and find some type of shade, I could actually enjoy the always interesting unfolding scene in front of me. Another interesting African phenomenon upon being stopped by the military was to burst into song. I learned so much about surrender here and also about being joyful as a expression of being alive, not because of desirable external conditions.
The last, but certainly not the least lesson that I hope and pray I don’t have to experience often or even again is the life of having a child with a chronic disability that can have extended acute and occasionally critical medical crisis. In addition to the fears and challenges of witnessing your child face pain, uncertainty and struggles there is the very real thing called life with work and other commitments and obligations that have to be put aside. It is both a great fear and an interesting revelation to understand that you are really not that important! That the world will go on without your presence despite projects you are heavily invested in, grants you need to finish, conferences you are scheduled to present, speaking engagements, workshops, classes you are scheduled to teach and so on. I remember being personally affronted by a sunrise one such morning. How could this be possible? That the world could still go on when I and my loved ones are enduring great suffering? This is where the rubber hits the road with surrender. Surrendering into God. Into life. This requires Trust. Faith. Acceptance. Devotion. There is a plan greater than this moment. I can allow Grace to move through me and the situation at hand. I can allow the magnitude of this suffering and the enormity of my love to be contained in the same space. I can breath in this moment. I can meet what is before me in this moment. I can trust that when I am able to return to the world, that there is a place for me there. That is all I need. Blessed be.