It is interesting to me how many people have praised me lately for my courage. It is true that the experience of gastric bypass surgery is a big deal (hence, no blog post yesterday since I never got over the desire to hurl all day)... but I'm not sure it is a mark of any sort of courage. In fact, before I went into the hospital, I would have said it was more a sign of weakness than of strength. You know, if I was "normal", I would have been able to keep the weight off each time I've lost it, and wouldn't have needed this major step. But, since I've been affirmed for courage, perhaps there is a way for me to embrace it.
I've been listening this week to David Whyte's "Clear Mind, Wild Heart: Finding Courage and Clarity Through Poetry". In it, he quotes Antonio Machado, speaking about the calling to courage in this way, "Anyone who moves on, even a little, walks like Jesus on the water." That seems to be a good reminder for me in this year of Re-birthing and in these days of physical transformation. Moving on, (even a little) toward God's desire for my life is a small miracle, not so very much different than walking on water.
Another poem Whyte offers speaks to me as well in this journey of newness and hope. The poem "Lost" is written by David Wagner, yet it takes its heart from a wisdom story told by Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. It is wisdom shared by the elders when a young boy or girl asks a very practical, yet also very metaphorical question: "What do I do when I'm lost in the forest?" As if to ask, what does any of us do when we are confronted with territory or situations or fears we have not yet encountered. So the poem begins with the question, in order to reveal the answer:
" What do I do when I'm lost in the forest? Stand still. Stand still.
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost.
Wherever you are, is called "here".
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, must ask permission to know and be known.
Stand still. Stand still.
The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you."
Sometimes it takes enormous courage to stand still, and to let the forest find us. It takes courage and hope and I believe a certain amount of faith to see and hear, to feel every moment of our existence - whether we are safe at home in the midst of familiar circumstances or lost in the forest of new challenges. And I wonder what would happen if I could be completely incarnate in this moment...and the next...and the next...and...
So for tonight I will try to keep moving on, if even a little. And in so doing, I will have earned that badge, "courage".