Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light,
so when we are in sorrow,
then this light is nearest of all to us.
~ Meister Eckhart ~
It’s in the in-between
that the real magic happens.
The seeds are planted,
the roots take hold…
and we blossom into who
we were meant to be.
~ Kristen Jongen
I’m not good at this in-between time. That’s where I am at the moment. Since a health scare prompted me to take a “time out” from working as Director of a Counseling Center in a small, private college in late December, I’ve been on hold as far as contributing to the Gross National Product.
And since patience never was one of my strong suits, I’m none too happy with not getting up at 6:30 every morning, coming home at 6:30 at night, having done my part to save the world.
Some of you who follow me know that I expected big things from my health care professional retreat to Assisi, Italy this month (“My Pilgrimage to ????”).
While there, I expected nothing less in the town of St. Francis’ birth than for the heavens to open and rain wisdom down upon my thirsty soul, giving me detailed instructions on where/what/when/how I would be doing for the rest of my life. Give me my Divine Missive and I will obediently carry it out to the letter, and beyond.
I want a lightning bolt to strike the ground directly in front of me with the answer to my impatient question of, “Now what?????”
My therapist has respectfully suggested that perhaps my imagery of a lightning bolt striking directly in front of me might need to be modified.
Let me explain.
Since my husband’s illness prevented us from going on retreat, my pilgrimage was one of hospitals and doctor’s offices and bedside vigils. Now that he is slowly recovering…I’m ready for the lightning bolt.
I can still hear my therapist, Dr. G, saying, “Theresa, I don’t like that image – the lightning bolt.” He’s trying to be polite and professional. That works for awhile. “That’s too much like a defibrillator!!! You need to use something more calming for the imagery – like a sunset, or a sunrise.”
My feet came off the floor as I burst out laughing. He and I have been through a lot together (…bless him…), ever since I first met him and, barely having sat down, informed him, “You have 6 months for me to get through this ‘whatever.'”
He tried to be polite and professional back then as well. “Theresa, perhaps putting a time limit on the therapy might add more stressors to your life?”
Don’t you just hate it when people are right???
Perhaps putting a time limit on my in-between time will also add more stressors to my life. And stressors are what sidelined me in the first place.
So now I have to let go of one of my all-time favorite symbols – my lightning bolt – and attach myself to something (unlike the defibrillator paddles) more soothing, more peaceful, less shocking, less startling.
Something without a sense of urgency or that won’t be seen as an intrusion; something that will simply allow answers and inspiration to come forward slowly, in their own time, bringing me to a “new and stronger Theresa.”
[Whew! Is this the kind of stuff I tell my patients/clients/students?]
So naturally, I start thinking.
[That’s another thing my therapist has observed; when he presents an idea, I “run with it like a German Shepherd, dragging my owner behind me.” I’m not sure if that was praise or censure, but I’m still going to run with it.]
And in thinking, I recall my time working in the trauma bays of a near-by hospital (“Of Hospitals, Loss and Love” and “Wounded Hearts” ), when a man was brought in with extensive burns from electrocution. The palm of one of his hands was the exit point of the bolt of electricity, and it had blown open a hole where you could see blackened skin, tendons, muscle and blood.
Burned. Charred. Unrecognizable.
This is what I was praying for? Asking for? A lightning bolt?
Maybe not such a good idea.
So here I am in the in-between time,
impatiently waiting for a lightning bolt beautiful sunset to remind me that all good things come to those who wait. To have patient trust in whatever has been written for me, even before I was born.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
Do I return to a college campus, where students struggle to carve out an identity (“An Adolescent’s Christmas with the Infant of Prague“)?
Do I open a private psychotherapy practice?
Do I volunteer in an international setting?
Do I venture forth as a motivational speaker?
Do I continue my blog?
Do I finally write the book I’ve always wanted to, something to uplift and inspire and offer hope?
Or do I simply continue as is, taking care of my family and myself, working my way through the grief of the vast losses that took hold of my life in the past 14 months (“Remembrance II” and “Who Will Remember?”)?
What is enough? What is too much? Where do I belong?
I’m not good at the in-between time.
The time between who I was and who I am yet to be.
The time between chapters…between birth and rebirth…between death and resurrection…
But above all, I am a listener. A co-journeyer.
The seeds have been planted, the roots have taken hold, and I have only to blossom in another setting, with another offering of my self.
I will wait in the quiet. I will listen for the whispers. I will keep watch for the soft glow of the banked embers that is the fire in my soul.
I will open and stretch to the golds and oranges of the welcoming sunrises. I will rest, bathed in the muted purples and pinks of the sunsets.
I will be still and know that I am.
And that will be enough.
Come. Who will journey with me?
When you close your doors,
and make darkness within,
remember never to say that you are alone,
for you are not alone;
my God is within,
and your genius is within.
And what need have they of light
to see what they are doing?
~ Epictetus ~