The last week has been particularly weird. I am not unacquainted with the suffering in the world and yet it seems so in my face lately. In my human-trying-to figure -it-out-way, I ask what's this all about, why is this coming to me? A fruitless, even foolish question, with no answer. It just is. One day there is an email from a new friend who has just received a cancer diagnosis. On the same day a note about another friend who has had a serious cancer reoccurance. Another day some not so good news about a family member's cancer surgery.
I clean out my mother's apartment and though I have managed her passing fairly well I am struck by how sad I feel as I take the last few pieces of clothing out of the closet and put them in a box for the Hospice Thrift Shop. My brother and I ponder the original birth certificates of my parents that we find in a locked metal box my mother kept. There is a finality to it all that can't help but be sad. And yet not every moment is sad. My brother tells stories about jumping on the bed as a kid and breaking it. We enjoy potato latkes and challah sandwiches in the sunshine at a little cafe our mother liked. Impermanance washes over us like the sunshine. We swish it around in our mouths with the coffee.
Yesterday I chipped a tooth and was ready to go down the avenue of, "man things are crazy and weird and bad. Who let the demons out? And I was going to slump into a heap of overwhelm on the chesterfield when a young friend called to tell me his mother had been seriously injured trying to commit suicide. All of a sudden my sad day and my chipped tooth didn't seem that important. Someone elses's troubles eclipsed mine and I offered an ear and some empathy.
I don't mean to sound like a downer but there it is, the truth of suffering all around us, sometimes closer to the top of the pond than others. So many people to keep in my prayers these days. It reminds me of the story of the mustard seed where the Buddha tells a woman whose son has just died to bring a mustard seed from a house that had not been touched by death. She canvases the village but can't find one. It is just one of the ways we are all connected. It is one of the things that helps compassion arise in us.
So as I drove along in the sunshine today I had to remind myself to really see that sunshine, to enjoy the cool fall air, not to get caught up in the story of how I am being overwhelmed by suffering. I can conjure up a whole big story that focuses on the suffering, making it big and everything else small. But that is not the whole truth, everything is moving and shifting. If I can move and shift with it from moment to moment my reality moves closer to the truth. I am freed from the big solid ball of suffering that threatens to suffocate me. It is more like a lacey tapestry with light shining through the openings. My wish for you is that you too, can breath in some joy through the openings.