Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Truth About Love: "At the Lake"


we said and felt and did and saw so much on Friday. at this point, re-visiting it feels like too much, so I will say very little, but wanted to share with you a positive thing.

i went to puffer's pond yesterday, a beautiful spot in amherst. i brought a picnic and books and spent the afternoon reading on my blanket or floating on my little inflatable raft. i'm struggling. everything is difficult, but i breathed, i lived, i did my day.

i only went in the water once. when i stepped in, this old woman--like maybe she was 70?--came right over to me. it was some effort for her to walk, but she made that effort so as to get to me. it was as though i was the right place for her. like the way i was looking for coffee on our drive home and spotted a dunkin' donuts and said, "oh, there's one!"

i had that feeling. like she was looking for something she needed and when she spotted me she said, "oh, there's one!" Like an information desk, or a map in a subway station, or a gas station when you're lost--or a kind soul when you need some helping.

i was a little taken aback when she talked to me because i was feeling so raw in the world already. i'd gone through a lot the night and day before, obviously. so i missed the first thing she said. and my first instinct was to avoid her. but then i thought maybe she needed my help and that maybe i ought to not be selfish. like maybe i might need to offer to help her get out of the water or something. i felt i should rise to the occasion.

so i looked up and into her eyes, and i was filled with warm loving. it's this warm thing that channels through me sometimes. deep compassion. the kind that knows no bounds and comes up from the earth and connects me to the heavens so that i am like a channel for goodness, traveling through from sky to earth, earth to sky. it is a great feeling of connectedness. it happens also sometimes when I pray and when i think about my niece and my nephew. i smiled. and engaged with her.

"something bit me," she said. "i think it was a moose fly." she showed me her wrist where a shocking amount of swelling was taking place, it was like a squishy blue golf ball had formed under her tissue-thin flesh just at the point where one would take her pulse.

"you need a poultish," I said--sometimes I still struggle with "s"s. (did i ever tell you about all the speech therapy I did as a kid?). she knew I meant "poultice," and i helped her to dig up some of the cool, wet mud on the shore. she placed it over her wrist, and held it there while she stood ankle deep in the water, leaning against the railways ties that formed a small wall at the edge of the water, and told me more about the bite.

i told her that ice and ibuprofen should help. and possibly a benadryl since it looked like she was having an allergic reaction. but i said if she'd been stung by a hornet, rather than bitten by a fly, then the poultice would really help to draw out the poison. i told her if it was a hornet, it would also itch very much in the coming days. i showed her where i had spotted a hornet's nest nearby when i was getting in the water. there were hornets crawling all over someone's towel and sandals.

"those are my things! " she said. "that's where i got bitten."

"I think you were stung," I said. "keep the poultice on it, put some ice on it, and take a benadryl and an advil if you like. it'll take a few days to feel better."

it's hard to explain the love and kindness i felt for her. and she was wonderful. i enjoyed talking with her and being there with her.

i offered her some advil, but she declined and said she'd go home instead.

i wished her luck and started to move away into the water, and she looked up at me and said, "are you a nurse?"

"No..." I said. I thought perhaps I ought to offer something more than that, some explanation for my knowledge or my reason for helping. But, I didn't really feel like explaining. So, I just left it at that. And I smiled.

i kind of wish i'd asked her why she picked me to talk to about her sting...there were so many people there, of all ages, mothers with children, men and women, all sorts of people. but she came straight over to me. and it was the right choice for both of us.

these things happen to me a lot. i generally don't tell anyone, unless there's a great anecdote associated, like the day I helped stop traffic for the ducks (did i tell you about that?) or the day i had diarrhea AND was late for my flight AND had locked the keys in the rental car AND the car rental woman had set her pants on fire AND I'd gotten in an accident with the rental car and totally stripped one of the side mirrors off the car AND I had Calvin and Norman with me and then the woman in the bathroom at SFO asked me to "help her find her hole." (which, I stopped and did, of course. the hole turned out to be a post-surgical drain in her back. eww.)

aside from those kinds of stories, there's something private and sort of spiritual about these moments. i feel connected to the right easy flow of the universe when i am called to love in this way. it's sort of like why people must give money anonymously. they give for the giving, not for the credit. i think it's why babies fall asleep in my arms. when i am near children, i often channel this calm, loving flow, that feels so good and soothing to them (and to me).

i share this with you now because i want to make a greater effort to focus on and verbalize the positive experiences in my days. and also because while it was happening, i was aware of you, and felt a connection to you in the moment. i think you wish for me a life that is full of that feeling--of love and loving, of smiling and goodness and inner calm. so i wanted you to know that, despite everything else, for a few minutes at the lake, i had that. and i appreciated it and loved it and returned to it now when i remembered and shared it with you.

i'm still struggling. there is lots more to say. but for now, let's leave it at this.

and, of course, another "thank you."

with love and appreciation and a fervent hope that your saturday work went quickly,


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