Life can turn on a dime. In one split second, a single event can send you crashing through the surface of your life into what I think of as a deep well, wherein lies the truths you never sought and never needed to find. That is what happened to me when my son died. It was something so shocking, so demolishing, that everything that lived on the surface of my life and my mind was reduced to rubble. There was nowhere to go except into the well. Or die. It was that simple.
There is a line from the movie, the Shawshank Redemption, when the character Andy Dufresne says to his fellow prisoner Red: “I guess it comes down to a simple choice: Get busy living, or get busy dying.” I made the choice to get busy living, although I don’t know how or why. The choice did not come from the surface of my mind; it was capable of nothing more than contemplating suicide. The choice to live had to have come from my soul. Perhaps that is the well. Within that well is the part of us that knows better, the part that knows that dying is nothing more than a delay, and that the plunge into the well will come sooner or later. I believe that we are destined to know why we are here, that we are more than the busy creatures who are consumed with accumulating stature and possessions. I believe that we are destined to know who we really are: the perfect, stardust children of God.
I never stopped to think about the possibility that there was that well within me, that something bigger and deeper and wider was going on behind and beneath my daily rituals. I simply didn’t stop. It took my son’s death to stop me. It took away everything that was small and trite and everything that glittered like gold. It took away my control. It took away my illusion of control. It stripped me clean of all ornaments and accessories, and left me in the well, naked and empty-handed.
That was thirty-eight years ago, and I can still feel the shock. But what has come of that shock, that plunge into the well? Nothing more than an awareness. An awakening. The ability to stop or to be stopped and ask, “What does this mean, and how is it meant to help me?” Eddie’s death gave me that. It gave me the well. It gave me the understanding that every soul decides when its purpose in any lifetime has been fulfilled. The timing of Eddie’s passing into spirit was his, not mine.
Not everyone is stopped by something as devastating as the loss of a child, thank God. But we will all be shaken awake by the Hand of Something Loving, so that we will know that life is more than the perceptions we receive from our daily work and striving. It may be a health crisis, or the loss of a job. It may be getting a job. A broken leg. It may be winning the lottery. It may be getting married or getting divorced. And yes, it may be the death of a loved one. At some point, we will be stopped, and we will learn something, hopefully in this lifetime.
And there is joy in that. There is joy in the knowledge, the surety that there really is a reason for everything, that there is an answer to every pressing question. Oh, but it takes work. Nothing this valuable is free. It takes time to discover our truths. It takes concentration and persistence. It takes determination. As for me, I have to commit to prayer and meditation. I have to read the works of great teachers. I have to hear my intuitive voice and trust it. I have to hang around my spiritual buddies who work with energy, people who understand that underlying everything is Love.
I am in the middle of a lesson right now. There is a strain of flu that is going around Sedona, knocking down my friends. I, who am never sick and like to brag about it, got knocked down as well. It was at its worst two weeks ago (I didn’t write my blog because I was down with what thought was a bad cold), but the thing about this strain of flu is that it sticks around, and while you may not be totally bedridden, you can suddenly feel lightheaded, sick, and tired. For some it lasts three weeks or more. I’m in my third week now and frustrated because my body wants to sleep at odd hours and it won’t obey my commands to go, go, go. Some days I feel normal and others, like today, I feel frustrated because the tiredness and general malaise is back. Some of my spiritual buddies out here feel that it is a cleansing. Perhaps they’re right. Whatever it is, it has stopped me. But it has made me remember that there is something bigger going on. Always.
Maybe what’s going on is nothing more than a little gift of time. Maybe the Universe is saying, time to rest, daughter. Maybe it’s time to lay back on your pillow and look out the window at that fabulous blue Arizona sky with its white, cottony clouds. Maybe it’s time to remember how good sweaters feel and how good chicken noodle soup tastes – like it used to when you were sick and your mother gave it to you. Maybe you need to take some time away from the dismal news to watch a good movie in the middle of the afternoon, or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Maybe, when you’re used to getting up early, you need to turn over and go back to sleep and have a beautiful dream. Maybe you need a tad more compassion for your friends that are down. Maybe it’s time to be grateful for the wonderful health you enjoy most of the time. Maybe…oh, well, you get the point.
We’re all loved, dear friends. And everything we need is in the well.