Sometimes, worries pile up. You find yourself awake (again) an hour before you need to get up. Maybe you had a bad dream. Maybe the financial-anxiety gears are already engaged, even before your outer mind has a chance to know what's going on.
Yesterday, I sat in Meeting for Worship in a small Quaker meetinghouse. Someone had lit a fire, and the glass in the old, tall windows around the room rippled when I moved my head, making patterns of the trees outside. I've been seeing that most of my life, and it gives a comforting sense of oldness.
Yesterday, I felt gnarled. Closed and small inside, distracted. I was there, but I wasn't there. Someone stood and spoke the words of Jesus: "Unless you become as little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Christianity has a way of turning assumptions upside down; so does Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron puts it like this: "...when we are nailed with the truth, we suffer...This is where tenderness comes in. When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something. We might realize that this is a very vulnerable and tender place, and that tenderness can go either way. We can either shut down and feel resentful or we can touch in on that throbbing quality...When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure."
Who is more open to adventure than a child? The key is embracing what hurts. Children howl and wail when things go wrong because they haven't learned to put on the mental armor. Their joy is also that much greater.
Much as I'd like to fly away from all this, I am nailed to the present moment. Welcome, life. Sometimes it hurts. What I'm learning is that if I flee from the hurt, it only magnifies. Being with it in tenderness brings in lightness, clarity. The glass may be rippled, but it's more fascinating that way.