The Hand of the Beloved
how is it that you search for Me like
a poor beggar on hands and knees frantically
scrounging the dirt floor for food?
My Dear Heart, if you wish, I can continue
to beg and scrounge alongside you, and
we can keep bruising our hands and knees,
never really filling our bellies on the scraps
this world happens to toss our way.
But wouldn’t it be easier
and a lot less on hands and knees and hearts
to take the hand of the Beloved who
has always been holding such sweet
nourishing delights to
your parched lips?
Come, let’s rest for a while.
Let’s go outside and
lay under the vast moon-lit night.
Lisa McCrohan, © 2017, Gems of Delight
School is starting soon, and last week, I felt my anxiety rising. This frantic panic took over me that came out as this thought: “We have to go and get school supplies and new clothes NOW! There’s not going to be anything left!”
When I told one of my good friends about my anxiety and how I hurriedly went to Staple’s and the mall to get our children supplies and clothes, she gently and humorously said, “You know, it’s not like when we were in school and you could only get supplies and clothes at the start of school. You can now get supplies and clothes anytime – even after the school year starts. And get this – it can all even be delivered to your house now! They’ll deliver school supplies and clothes year-round to your doorstep!”
Sharing and laughing helped me to feel more settled. I’m getting more and more used to sharing instead of keeping my anxiety to myself.
After I left my friend, I had more spaciousness within me to pause and look at what was underneath my anxiety. When I paused, I saw that I was scrounging for control. I wanted an impossible “crystal ball promise” that everything would be okay — that my kiddos starting in middle school and high school would be 100% okay, that I would be okay, that our family would be okay, that our world would be okay. I saw that I was also tapping into loss – my children moving away in a few years for college, my parents dying someday, my husband dying someday, and my own body growing old and dying. And my way of going through my children’s clothes, making a list of the clothes they had outgrown and needed, and checking the school supply list ten times was driven by trying to get control over what I ultimately don’t have control over. And I was also trying to avoid feeling the losses that inevitably are ahead.
When we name what is happening within us, we see it more clearly and it has less control over us. Instead of fear, panic, anxiety, or worry “at the wheel,” Awareness is at the wheel. And we can then choose how we want to RELATE to that fear, panic, anxiety, or worry.
I chose to be gentle with it. I chose to be gentle with myself.
As my best friend (and stylist!), Maria and I talk about all the time: in midlife now we are practicing choosing self-love instead of self-harshness.
Though I still struggle with choosing self-love over self-harshness, I refuse to “motivate” myself through harsh critiques like “Why do you feel this way?!” or “You are just overreacting!” or “Aren’t you over this anxiety yet?!” or “Shouldn’t you know better?!”
I try to remember to say things now like, “Oh Love, you are scared right now” or “This is hard right now” or “Anxiety sucks, doesn’t it?” or “Of course you are worried” or “Oh you are carrying a lot” or “Of course you are scared about the losses that are coming.”
I try to be my own best friend. I try to talk lovingly to myself without bullshitting myself.
I try to not hide my anxiety but rather share it with dear ones.
For far too many years, I refused to take the hand of the Beloved – the Divine – trying to whisper these words of self-love to me…trying to show me how self-harshness doesn’t help…trying to show me how trying to conquer my anxiety doesn’t work…trying to show me how going at this alone doesn’t heal. Many times I have refused the “sweet nourishing delights” God holds to my “parched lips.”
But I am not doing that any longer. My forties have been about meeting my suffering with kindness. And I will continue to choose again and again – deeper and deeper – to love myself – even through the anxieties of the start of the school year, even through the inevitable losses in life.
This, ironically, allows me to “rest for awhile” and take the hand of the Beloved – the Divine, a friend, my husband, or my child – and “go outside and lay under the vast moon-lit night,” breathe, and allow my body and soul to experience the “sweet nourishing delights” God holds to my “parched lips.”
Delights in everyday life like: riding my bike with my friends through the surrounding mountains and farms; snuggling with our dog Sherlock; my son quietly laying his head on my shoulder at mass; my daughter asking to do a craft project together; my husband looking at me adoringly; my parents laughing and sharing stories in our kitchen; and yearly visits from my siblings. These are sweet nourishing delights that are here to remind me that while there are losses in life and things will not be okay 100% of the time, there is also so much goodness, beauty, and love to be experienced right alongside any suffering.
Maybe you, too, get anxious or get caught in old habits and old ways of being that are just part of the human experience. Maybe you, too, at times feel a sense of preemptive grief for the losses that are to come in life – losing a parent, your child growing up and moving out, your body growing older and feeling more aches and pains. Maybe you, too, scrounge for control by making your lists and trying to be on top of “all the things.”
n the midst of it all, may you take a moment to pause and see what’s underneath that need for control, the scrounging, and the avoiding. Practice self-love and gently ask yourself, “What’s here right now?” And give yourself the spaciousness to listen. Listen for the Beloved’s whisper. Listen for the invitation to treat yourself with love. Give yourself the spaciousness to feel the hand of the Beloved reaching for yours. Give yourself the spaciousness to remember the sweet nourishing delights in your life. And feast on them – maybe even under the vast moon-lit night.
And maybe because of such pausing, you can rest — somehow knowing deep in your bones that, in the biggest scheme of things, maybe Julian of Norwich was right, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Dear One, both of my books, Gems of Delight and Your Light are Rising, offer lovely support for you to gently pause and feel a sense of being held and loved within your daily life. You can find signed copies in my shop. You can also find my poetic meditation series, Calm in the Chaos, that nourishes both your nervous system and soul.