Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Sound of Silence

     During this past Lenten season, I decided I would add meditation practices to my prayer life. This is not an easy task for someone who admittedly falls asleep while praying at night. I never get to the part where I can be quiet, clear my mind, and potentially hear God's voice. In fact, the only time I have been able to get any prayer in at all is at night because I'm so stressed and wound up during the day. I honestly believe that most times it's hard for me to just sit down, shut up, and just be at peace for five or ten minutes. Way too much going on for that!

     It happened once during the forty days. Once. One time I was able to stay awake, be still, and listen. This was momentous for me and I really wanted to try again. A couple of weeks ago, I was determined to do it again...

     ...and I did it! I was completely able to stay awake, tune everything out, and listen for God's voice.

     The funny thing was I didn't quite understand what I believe I was hearing in those moments. "Take care of your health; take care of yourself..." What? I mean, I was asking for guidance about work mostly when I prayed as of late. I have gotten really frustrated there and everything seems to make me immediately erupt into anger or tears or both, and I needed help....but health? Okay, I guess that kind of stress isn't good for your health, but how do I deal with the stress to help my health? I snuggled down into my comforter, deciding not to think about it anymore, and went to sleep.

     The next morning those words would become very, very, clear to me. While I was walking my dog, a neighbors dog had gotten out and started chasing us. Trying to get away I tripped and fell breaking my wrist. Thankfully, the dog was ultimately friendly, or this may have been a whole different post, but its hard to tell at 6:45 in the morning in the dark whether its just Lassie or its Cujo after you. I picked up Kobi's leash, who had gone to sniff the Japanese Boxwoods after also seeing the dog was no threat, and hurried us inside.

     I wasn't even thinking of my work issues as Eric, yanked out of his shower while having only washed his face, took me to the Emergency Room. My blood pressure was surprisingly spot on for the pain I was in and would continue to be the next several times it was taken over the next few days. Eric and I would laugh every time a cuff came out as if we should bet on the number like you would at a Vegas roulette table. At some point I did contact work letting them know what happened, but I was far from concerned about anything going on there. It was probably the least concerned I'd been about work in eight months. Why couldn't I have had this feeling of "separation" previously without breaking my wrist to do so?

     The next day I went to the Orthopedist. He took one look at my X-Rays and said, "They did tell you you were gonna have to have surgery, right?" ER I was terrified. I would have surgery in two days. I have NEVER had surgery. I have only heard horror stories about surgery. You know, the operating on the wrong side, waking up during the procedure, not even walking up at all...I was a mess...

     ...and I was still definitely not thinking of all...except for logging in to put in for personal time off.

     Meanwhile Eric had been a total trooper through all of this. He has essentially been my left hand and the best example of keeping the wedding vow "in sickness" I have ever seen. You know, if I think about it, recently I would grieve for my time not spent at work each weekend, knowing I would just have to go back to the miserable situation in a few days in stead of being present in my mind and in the day with Eric. I found myself wishing I had lived more in the moment and desperately trying to explain to this wonderful man how much I loved him and wishing I had not been so self-absorbed. If I had just let the work issues go for two days a week...

     ...Just then I heard the scariest six words I've ever heard in my life... "We're taking you to the O.R. now." A big "crocodile" tear ran down my face.

     No one could have been happier to see Eric more than I was in recovery. If I was a dog, there would have been uncontrollable tail wagging. I was going home, with my husband, and two days of PTO! I could just relax. Heal. Decompress. That's what I thought at least....

     The day after my surgery, a few situations at work got so messed up, that I felt the need to work even though I was so tired and drained from surgery. I was going to work from home the next week, but it just couldn't wait. A customer was getting more and more upset by the minute, I always say, when there is a lack of training at a place of business, "what if I get hit by a bus?" This was the closest I've ever come to that particular scenario...

     ...If I've raised that question before, how do I keep ending up here? Things have to change. Is it me, though? Is it them? Is it both of us? Isn't this what I was praying about and meditating on when I heard, "Take care of your health; take care of yourself?"

     I sat outside on the back patio mid-afternoon yesterday. I heard that about ten minutes of sun a day was good for bruising as I have a good amount of it from the fall and from surgery. A gentle wind was blowing as I settled into my deck chair and watched the willow in the backyard sway back and forth. It was nearly hypnotic and I found myself relaxed, mind clear, and open to possibilities for the problems that have plagued me off and on through my working life. I allowed many thoughts, many whispers from God, none of them forced, to enter my consciousness.

     I have work to do, and while i am not completely responsible for the situations I find myself in, I am finding I have more latitude to control what I can control, and have the grace to accept what I cannot. The most important thing is, after trying so hard for forty days to do it, I have finally figured out, when I need, how to settle down, be still, and be wonderfully and openly receptive. I just need to remember to do it and often. No, wait, not often...every day....

     I don't know if they meant it this way, but an old song by Simon and Garfunkel kept coming to mind during this time:

"Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted
In my brain still remains
Within the sound of silence"

     I realized that by taking care of my health, I was learning to take care of myself. I have also learned to enjoy the sound of silence.

Happy Fishing!


PS - I feel that meditation is a valuable practice to gain clarity no matter what you believe on a religious/spiritual level. I do believe that's how I hear God's voice, at the same time, no matter who you are, if you don't sit down and clear your head once in awhile, you won't even hear your own true voice. So, I wanted to write a brief note to encourage everyone to spend some time in silence and reflection whenever you can. Ask yourself seriously how can you think clearly with so much noise all around you? Take some time to be still today!