It’s Sunday evening and my spirit feels spent but at peace.
It started Thursday, as we were driving the 5th wheel through the hills of Tennessee, reaching Knoxville during rush hour traffic, when the engine began to struggle for the power to pull 16,000 lbs up the steep incline.
We were on our way to surprise our family, who was gathering in Nashville to celebrate six generations, and my heart wanted to be there, not broke down in the parking lot of a Toys R Us.
It started there, but it didn’t stop there. Our weekend looked a little like this:
- Stress: The feeling when you send the truck up the hill on not much more than prayers.
- Anxiety: What creeps in when you almost don’t make.
- Frustration: When it’s 6:20 but everything closes at 6pm and you realize you’ll be sleeping in the parking lot right in front of the No Overnight Parking sign.
- Overwhelm: When the part you need is 24 hours away and you’re not certain it’s the right one anyway.
- Disappointment: When you have to cancel clients and the Organic Tribe.
And then it shifted into something like this:
- Sadness: When you see the stress on the face of your niece who is a new, young mama.
- Heartbreak: When she cries in your arms from exhaustion and the loneliness that can come after having a little one.
- Helplessness: When you see the unhappiness written on your brother’s face and peppered through his words from overwork and under-joy.
- Hurt: When you recognize that the only way the people you love know how to connect is through sarcasm and criticism
- Worry: When you see the lack of light in their eyes and the resistance to fun in their lives
- Concern: When the people you love are struggling to love themselves or their lives
- Powerless: It’s difficult to know the joy and love that are a part of your life are hardly a possiblity in the hearts of those you love.
- Sorrow: When I discovered that my paternal grandfather has passed away weeks before.
- Frustration: That I heard it through the grapevine, instead of through my paternal family.
It sounds like a difficult, unhappy weekend.
Six months ago it might have been. 2 years ago it certainly would’ve knocked us off course. It wouldn’t flipped our switches to anxiety, fear, and frustration, leaving us feeling sabotaged and unhappy and reeling for days.
But it wasn’t any of that.
It was beautiful. It was full of joy and connection and wonder.
Because we had love.
Love we received when I sent out a text to friends and family and received support in the form of prayers, Reiki, and kindness.
Love we found ourselves surrounded by on the side of the highway, with family and offers of help just 2 hours in one direction and three in the other.
Love I gave myself when I was about to snap in frustration.
Love I found within myself to give to my husband as he struggled with overwhelm and frustration.
Love that became awe and appreciation when he turned misfortune into miracles and rebuilt the part we couldn’t order to get us into town.
Love and gratitude we gave each other in a dozen moments, in the parking lot, at dinner out, before we got back on the road.
Love we found in the form of peace as we reminded ourselves that we are safe, that we all is well, that we are exactly where we’re meant to be, even if we can’t see why.
Love that gave us the ability to access peace, lean into Trust, practice mindfulness and patience and radical acceptance.
Love that reminded us to choose fun, gratitude, and beauty at every opportunity.
Love that I called on and found within myself to shine light and joy into the hearts of my family.
Love that I found in holding my great-niece, dance her to sleep and watch her eyes as they tried to tell me the secret of the Universe.
Love that I saw all over my brother’s face as he held and kissed and lit up around his beautiful granddaughter.
Love I felt between our hearts as I hugged longer and listened deeper and offered hope and support where I could.
Love that I continued to receive from my circles of friends in the form of texts and messages and emails and energy and prayers that I felt all weekend long.
Love that I dwelled in at the celebration of six living generations and the wonder and growth that this new little girl is bringing into our lives.
Love at the sound of laughter from my nieces as we hula hooped, visited the zoo or went horseback riding.
Love I felt with the dozens of small heart connections Justin and I would continue to make with a touch, a hug, a look, a reminder of one another and our support for each other.
Love for my husband as I saw him inspiring fun and laughter, silliness and playfulness for his nieces and the whole family in the ways that only a juggling, kilt-wearing, bike-riding-inside-Target uncle can.
Love for my son as he held my hand as I cried for my grandfather, or told us how luck he was to have parents like us, or made the whole family laugh.
And love for myself. As I acknowledged my own growth. My own strength. My own ability to remove the barriers to love I’ve held within myself and the beauty and joy accessed when I do.
My ability to continue to shine my own real self, not the person my family has known me to be in the past. My ability to continue to make my own joyful noise to fill the quiet spaces. To inspire fun and connection. To reach out. Love deeper. But not deplete myself.
I can’t tell you exactly why Life is so tough at times.
I can’t explain why we were meant to break down, why my niece gets to struggle as a single mama, why my brother has gotten to experience so much hurt in his life, why any of us have.
Except maybe that it’s so we can discover that love can still be found in those moments.
That joy can still be accessed when stress is threatening.
That beauty and wonder are always present, not despite the heartache, but sometimes because of it.
That the Truth of what is can overcome the fear of what might be.
To discover that fear needn’t be “pushed through” but simply loved on.
That peace and Trust come from within, not from the circumstances in our life.
I can’t exactly show you how all the dots of my weekend are being connected in my spirit, how the contrasting emotions played themselves out moment by moment; I can’t tell you exactly what it all means and why.
I’ve barely had time to process it myself…except to say that when I close my eyes in stillness all I hear echoing is the power of love.
And that sounds about right, the purpose of all of these messy bits of our lives – to understand what is and what isn’t love, and how and where one can and can’t access it, and how this incredible force of Nature is like the air, waiting to be breathed in or carried away on.