Three random but important things about today:
Random but important thing # 1. It was, in the beginning, a “tired day.” For a long time I have felt powerless in the face of them. This is unfortunate as I have had “tired days” more often than not these past few years – commitment to self, exercise, exhaustive research, “Time for Being” (or TFB) as my friend Amy calls is, energy work, endless amounts of vitamins and supplements, and an uber healthy diet notwithstanding.
Random but important thing # 2. I have just read Anita Moorjani’s book about her bout with cancer (stage 4b when she was taken to the hospital as her organs shut down), her NDE (near death experience), and her spontaneous remission. The book has affected me profoundly in that it has given me a new lens through which to view my own (lesser but still challenging) struggle with ill health.
Random but important thing # 3. Not to be morbid, but I think about cancer frequently these days; this because in the past three or so years, I have had two family members, one dearly beloved friend, and several wonderful acquaintances succumb to it. Also, I think about it because cancer, as it turns out, is the lens through which I am currently exploring many of life’s major questions. And, finally, I think about cancer because a little over a year ago, while packing for a training program for female litigators in CO (which I would come to call “cancer camp,” but that’s another story), I took time out to meditate. Toward the end of my meditation, I heard a very clear internal voice say that if I “didn’t do something differently soon” I would “end up with a cancer diagnosis” of my own. One tends to pay attention to audible, internal voices. Or, at least, I do.
So today I took Anita Moorjani’s book, DYING TO BE ME, to Montgomery Bell Park. I go to MBP often (usually with Hafiz in tow) either to sit in the tiny, quiet chapel there, or to run the trails, or both, depending on how I feel. By the time I got to the chapel with my book, it was clear that today was not a running day. I was so tired that I didn’t want to sit up to read. I lay down in one of the pews and thought about Anita’s NDE, and about how she came out of it understanding that, in her particular case, cancer was the result of a lifetime of fear. (I want to say here that I do NOT believe cancer and other various and sundry health challenges are always self-induced; only that I believe that they can be.) I also thought a lot about her description of having made a conscious choice to come back at all. She could have “gone on,” but chose to come back with the full understanding that she would heal rapidly if she did. This was possible, she says, because during her NDE – while in a blissful, nonphysical realm – she had a direct experience with her own “magnificence, undistorted by fear.” This revelation elicited in her a seismic internal shift, which brought about a seismic external one; when she came out of her 36 hour coma/NDE, her cancer disappeared within a matter of days.
I had been lying (laying?) in the pew thinking about the implications of Anita and her story for ten or so minutes, when two older gentlemen (small town farmers, by the looks of it) wandered into the chapel. We had a nice chat, and I was then treated to an impromptu concert when one of them sat down at the piano to bang out a few hymns. (I couldn’t decide, at first, whether to be amused or irritated by this intrusion on my TFB. But the piano playing was so bad, and the piano player so cute – in the way that only a small town farmer playing the piano at a tiny church in the middle of Montgomery Bell Park can be – that I caught the wave and enjoyed it.)
Backtracking briefly: When I’d first heard people approaching the chapel, I immediately sat up and feigned reading. (Reading in a chapel requires no explanation, you see, while lying in a pew might). As we were chatting, I kept expecting the farmer/piano player to ask me what I was reading. He didn’t. For whatever reason, once he was busy at the piano, I rehearsed the imaginary conversation in my head:
Farmer/piano player: Whatcha readin’?
Me: A book by a woman who had cancer but healed completely.
Farmer/piano player: Oh. Do you have cancer?
Now. This is a strange question, admittedly, even for an imaginary conversation. (This is the sort of thing that happens during TFB – even when interrupted by farmers and pianos.) Even stranger was the fact that I had no imaginary answer for this imaginary question. I kept trying to formulate the simple answer (“No”), but the imaginary word wouldn’t form in my mind.
This is odd only because the answer is no. Right? No. Of course I don’t have cancer.
But as the real farmer/piano player was banging out a horrible yet heartfelt rendition of some hymn or other, I started to cry. Because I felt tired. And because I’m tired of being tired. And because I didn’t understand why I couldn’t answer the question. And, finally, because a great deal of important information surfaced as a result of this imaginary exchange.
I don’t have cancer. But I had the distinct and inexplicable feeling, in the midst of this meditation-set-to-bad-piano-music, that I have created fertile ground in which this particular disease might manifest. You know how, during TFB, big chunks of information occasionally seem to download instantly and with great clarity? In this instance, my inability to answer the imaginary question seemed to translate immediately into the knowledge that I have, indeed, created the energetic possibility for cancer within my physical experience. The realization felt like a lightning bolt.
(Quick aside: I got some bad news a few years ago. At one point, I remember telling a friend of mine that I wanted to know that my loved ones were safe and okay, and that I would then welcome “a cancer diagnosis or something”. I said those words exactly. Low point. Didn’t last long, but there it is.)
In any case, eventually the real life the music stopped, we chatted a bit more, and the farmer/piano player and his friend went on their way.
As I sat in the chapel, I thought about Anita’s choice as to whether or not she wanted to came back to this life, and I realized that perhaps I had a choice to make too; that one way or another my fate was not set in stone, and that a choice would be helpful here, now.
And then, after a few more minutes of contemplation, I made a choice. Cheerfully and emphatically, I chose life. And health. (With full knowledge that whichever choice I made would be fine, ultimately.)
And then – and I’m not making this up – the two gentlemen came back into the chapel and announced that they were going to pray before they left. So they both sit down at the back on the tiny chapel and the farmer/piano player offers up a heartfelt prayer, in which he assures God that it doesn’t matter where one chooses to worship, or what one looks like, so long as one worships somehow, somewhere. He goes on to pray for the “sinners,” that they might be “saved,” and last but not least – I shit you not – he prays for the “sick,” that God might “reach down his hand from heaven and heal them, in Jesus name, Amen.”
And with that, farmer/piano player/angel wishes me a good day and leaves with his friend.
As they left, I let the feeling wash over me – the feeling of being enveloped in that sort of miracle frequency which, physically, feels warm and tingly but is so much more than that. Not surprisingly, I felt a shift within. Suddenly I was less tired. Tired, but less tired.
And then I was outside and suddenly I was filled with so much awe and joy and gratitude and LOVE that I had to run the trails. And I loved every tree that I passed, and every bird and every rock and every leaf and the sky, and EVERYTHING sent a jolt of LOVE and gratitude through me, and I understood what Anita says about how the most important thing is to “be the love that you are.”
When I got off the trail, I found a rock to signify today’s choice, which feels like an important and intentional one. I found a rock in the creek bed, took it back to the little chapel, and put it on the altar. Farmer/piano player/angel was long gone, so I offered up my own prayer and brought the rock home.
The rock, like my ring, will serve as a tangible reminder of my choice and my commitment – to life, to self, to health.
And if you haven’t read Anita Moorjani’s book, may I recommend it?