I sat just feet away from it yesterday. In fact I didn’t even know it was right behind me until I stood up for a tour of the land. The Tree of Life. This sprawling tree was named three years ago when I slipped out to see a friends new home. She invited me because she knew I would see what she saw. And, she was right. I didn’t see a home that needed some major housekeeping, a lot of cleanup, and landscaping. I saw a place on the planet that was handmade by God, just for her. I saw the fields behind her new home, a span of blue sky, and this lovely Tree of Life. Just like she had dreamed of and talked about since I had known her. And, I knew it would breathe new life into her after a long stretch of worry and suffering. I saw a place that within a short time would have her sweat, green thumb, and love sprinkled all over it. There was no doubt God planted a reserved sign there. Sitting near the tree and her, it was the most peaceful day I have had in a long time.
I had to come clean with someone, and reach out for help. So I texted her. I knew I was in trouble, slipping into an abyss that scared me enough, I thought I might never come out of it this time. Coming clean is easy for me to do. The reaching out, well, that is another story. I can take my own inventory and keep no secrets better than anyone these days. I write about it and share probably more than I should. I know there was a time I couldn’t do that, for decades actually. A twelve step program taught me that secrets make you sick, and by the time I got there, I was incredibly ill and badly damaged. As the years went by I continued to dole out little bits of accumulated poison from secrets kept since childhood. I knew it would kill me if I didn't. That’s been almost thirty years ago and I still remember how it felt. Every day, week, month, and year was like someone kept inching open a steel door that I installed to protect my heart and soul. When fresh air finally rushed through, cleansing everything it touched, I knew something had moved through me leaving behind His spirit, love, and assistance for my future use. It wasn’t a one-time project like I thought it would be way back then. There have been periods of my life even in my recovery that I have had dark nights of the soul; a deep depression that was predictable and situational coming with loss, loneliness, uncertainty, and necessary changes. Looking back I have moved through them with the help of friends, therapists who became friends, and family. And, most important a loving God who spoke to me soothingly, sent me some angels and signs, and directed me towards my next step.
Imagine how scared I have been over the past year or so, to do many of things that in the past provided guidance and support only to find God had gone rogue on me, blocked my number, and left me to my own devices. I could picture Him with his Holy fingers in his ears chanting, Lalala.... I can’t hear you. I meditated. I got still. I prayed many times during the day and in the middle of the night. I cried, I begged, I pleaded. I'd never been in a place of physical incapacity and pain before, which made it even scarier. Then I stopped. It all seemed futile. I felt like I had gone back in time, 50 years ago - age thirteen learning that I was an unwanted addition to the planet and that most people would be better off without me. I thought I put all that to rest when I learned to share, forgive, and experience love again. And, most profoundly through motherhood and becoming a grandmother. But, there they were- those ugly notions about myself and even worse, the demon feelings that come with those kind of thoughts.
As I said, I am not good at reaching out. It used to be a case of not wanting anyone to think I was less than Super Woman, a flimsy a costume I designed to protect me. But, now I think its all about the debilitating uncertainty and fear of rejection if I do reach out. All this tells me I still have some unfinished business to do, even now.
I have been in a mind numbing slump off and on for the last year due to some major surgeries and long recovery process afterward. At first, I attributed much of my disposition to pain medication, isolation and an inability to live life like I had before; driving, exercising, and going where I wanted to go, when I wanted to. My independence was ripped out of my hands. And, with this last surgery, the recovery may not wind up being a complete recovery, and I may have to learn to live with some pain being my new normal. I tried to accept that on my own, but knew I would need a little help, and found most days, my prayers to an absent God (I’m not a quitter, even if He was) became more like pleas to take me Home where I really belonged if my life was going to be like it had played out in the last year - no purpose, no adventure, a black and white existence with no colors. A burden and a deadbeat. He ignored even that request. I thought this must be what hell feels like.
I dropped hints to people about my state of mind. I wrote about it too, but somehow no one seemed to connect the dots and realize I was totally incapable of helping myself. Classic depression that this time, without the sweet silent guidance of a Higher Power was threatening my life. I knew all the things I needed to do; go to the gym, meet friends for lunch, meditate, write my book, sit in the sun. I even made lists of things to do for the day and couldn’t even get dressed. Depression is like that. It does everything in its power to take you out, sapping you of any strength and invading your head with every ugly act in your life. It’s intent is to kill you, usually slowly and in the most torturous ways. I felt like I was dying and worse than death in my mind, I felt so insignificant, invisible really, that no one could even see what was happening.
What led me to the Tree of Life? A few things. First, the smallest of these, my youngest grand-daughter began to text me all her nine year old fears, resentments, and feelings. What does a nine-year old have to be resentful for? Older sisters that were getting to do some things she couldn’t do and one of them being mean to her. Parents that she felt didn’t understand her. She ended her texting telling me how much she loved me and wishing me a good night’s sleep. Wow. I wasn’t insignificant to her. Another friend apparently knew I wasn’t Super Women anymore and sensed I was having difficulty not only reaching out, but following up on things I claimed to want to do. She set a new book to read and a date with me for a coffee shop book chat. The spiritual book club I wanted to form enabling me to bond with like-minded tribe members was going to happen. I have to read the book in the next week and a half.
Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day, so with trembling fingers I texted my friend and asked to come visit with her at her Little Piece of Heaven. The sun, the sky, the Tree of Life lifted me and left me with a small seed, promising new fruits even as I learn to accept my new normal. She just sat with me and listened, reassuring me she would feel the hope for me until I could feel Him again myself. It reminded me of a line from a favorite song:
I need your Grace
To remind me
To find my own
She’s holding my spot until I can once again, find my own.
For now, I am logging off of social media again for the summer, turning off the television, specifically, CNN and Fox news. I want to venture into new places that are filled with light, vitality, and good energy.
I want to follow the sun. Be in the presence of that which is innocent and fresh. I’m reading more. Hanging out in God’s playground again and sitting in the stillness with the hope that my brain will settle enough sooner or later, to hear His voice.
We’ll start there. Baby steps and a spot held for me at Grace's table. All roads eventually lead us back Home and to Him. Maybe he’s not been as absent as I think. I got to sit near a Tree of Life yesterday and the day before I couldn’t leave my couch.