This morning, I am thinking about how different our "down" moments look, or rather the way we all look in our down moments.
Some of us hide, some of us seek company and an ear, some of us eat, some of us can't eat. And then, this: for some of us, the way we show up at these times is somehow sweeter and more attractive (openly upset, vulnerable) than the way others of us may show up (shut down, aggressive).
I don't know that we can choose that "look," that way of responding to our Lizard freaking out or to our heart breaking. I think maybe we just default to our own way of being in the world.
But maybe, we can change the way we react to that "look," when it comes our way. Maybe, just maybe, if we remember to try, we can manage to have as much compassion for someone whose composure is defensive and challenging than to someone who melts in our arms and openly asks for love.
I think I am going to give this a shot.
25 years ago, I was hours away from meeting her for the first time. These were not fun hours, and when after a day and a half of labor I was told to "push," I knew for sure that everyone in the room was crazy. I remember feeling so helpless being at the mercy of people who had lost their minds, and were trying to make me do something impossible.
I tried to convince them that there was another way (maybe a secret zipper, somewhere) - and when that did not go anywhere, I begged for a C-section.
But they were stubborn, and I was in their hands. So I pushed, and at 2:15 pm, on May 21, 1992, she arrived. Her dad wept as she was placed on my belly, all perfect and pink.
That night, with her in my arms and everyone else asleep, we locked eyes and the rest of the world faded away.
Just hours old, she held my gaze for close to an hour as we melted fully into one another one last time. That night, a wordless promise was made.
25 years later, this promise is upheld over and over again.
And today, it includes finding my way towards making her a vegan tiramisu.
Walking through the old, old church, I immediately fall into an automatic reverence, a cellular awareness of the sacred. I was sort of raised Catholic (and sort of not at all), and something about entering a Catholic church always gets me.
This little church is nestled into the 10th century hill town of Ventimiglia, Italy. Turn after turn of tiny streets, basil adorned windows, laundry hanging artfully from balconies, kids, dogs, and just a couple of stores for the locals. A pastry shop, of course. There are seven of us climbing the hills and exploring the turns, and for some reason, even before we enter the church, we all start using our library voices and pointing quietly.
When we arrive at the church, we become even quieter and when I guide our group to the back, we silently take the stairs to the crypt. If I have this right, the crypt is from the VIII century and well... there’s something about this that makes you think - or maybe just stop thinking.
Across from the crypt, is the baptismal area and just by touching the stone vessel, I sink deeper into the reverence mode. I mean ... how many babies have been lowered into this thing? By how many parents who felt deeply about the importance of the gesture? No matter what I believe personally, I am always moved by being in the presence of anyone’s sacred spot. It’s kind of like my sacred gets to brush up against their sacred and for a moment, they share a kiss. I love that.
Climbing the steps back up from the beautifully lit underground of the church, I detect a familiar scent. Having had my nose-ego greatly stroked the day before at the Fragonard Perfume Factory (I aced the smell test, thank you very much), I allow myself to go with it. And I start waxing poesy about how-many-years-of-burning-incense-it-must-have-taken-to-get-to-this-perfect-smell. I whisper about the incense having sure permeated the stone walls, one sacred mass at a time. I close my eyes. I see them all, these centuries of incense smokes making magnificent curls. My inner Catholic girl is waking up from a long sleep and stretching her arms up to the vaulted ceiling.
My friend Jim is near me. He listens. And then, quietly, he suggests:
“OR, it could be this” - and points to ... (oh man, I can barely write it) ... a freaking plug-in. A smelly pluggy thing. The kind you find in airport bathrooms and government buildings. A plug-in. Right there in the thick holy stone wall. Still hoping that there is a mistake, I get down on my knees and I give the thing a good sniff. Yup. Sure enough. Scent of Catholic Church. Delivered right to our noses through the power of electricity and chemicals.
All of a sudden, I can’t stop laughing! Humility takes over the reverence and I am brought back to now. The contrast between my words of seconds ago and the vision of this beige plastic gadget somehow tickles my funny bone to the max. Laughing so hard, I take a fuzzy photo, and then I have to step out of the church and let the hilarity out all the way.
Contrasts. Surprises. Reminders to stay humble, I love them all.
Today, I invite you to play with life. To be ready to see your words turned on their heads - to be surprised by things not being the way you thought. And to allow the delight to tickle you!
SCARED OF THE SACRED