Saturday, January 15, 2011
FLOWERS, ICE CREAM AND SAND
Sometimes don't you just want to hide and hope the storm passes, the the pain stops, the pressing and urgent matters are all solved, and the people that have hurt you 'get' theirs? It is just at this time that suddenly, out of the blue, a friend brings you flowers and ice cream. The clouds lift, rain or not, and the whole world seems a whole lot brighter.
"Our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if the other person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We must practice this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent on the other person being lovable."
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Perhaps just perhaps how far we go, and how well we fare in life, depends on loving those that are unlovable and those that have hurt us and made oceans of our tears.
I think one of my all time favorite quotations is from Rainer Maria Rilke, "Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something that wants our love."
You may need to read that once or twice to grasp the multi-leveled meanings. What I can say is that whenever, and it is often, a situation occurs, or a word cuts deep, or a friend betrays, and blossoms fall from the trees that shelter our lives, I remember the princesses and the dragons, and I remember that perhaps these are the times and the things and the people that need our love the most. So I don't give up on them.
"It's no trick loving somebody at their best. Love is loving them at their worse." ~Tom Stoppard
We have all, at one time or another, been in the trenches and most of us have survived. Watching wounds heal, whether physical, mental, or emotional is difficult and in some cases the wounds reopen and the pain comes screaming out, as it did one day in Plano, Texas.
I remember walking through the galleries of H. Ross Perot, Sr.'s offices, with a wounded warrior I shall call Harry and my therapy/service dog, "Kelsie." We were there to meet Mr. Perot regarding the Penny's From Heaven Foundation. The moment we entered the doorway and presented our documents for admittance, Harry's personality changed completely. He started walking, seemingly in circles, saying over and over and over again, "Where is my sand? I know it is here somewhere. Where is my sand?" I kept asking him what he was talking about, as we moved quickly through halls and halls of priceless memorabilia from the life and times of an amazing man. Original paintings of George Washington, multiple Norman Rockwells, and life size bronze replicas of Mr. Perot's grandchildren made me stop in my tracks. But the mission of finding 'the sand' was all that was on Harry's mind. Upon questioning him, he responded only in a whisper, "It is here someplace."
Mr. Perot provided us with a wonderful docent, to continue our tour of a building full of his life's gifts and achievements. One hallway took us to a room of memorabilia from OIF/OEF. Harry hurried on ahead of the tour and excused himself, saying he needed 'to go outside for a while.' Recognizing PTSD and its signals I knew this room contained something causing him to face fear and flashbacks head on. He had to escape. He could not face something in this room.
Then I saw it. The sand. It was in an ordinary jar on a large shiny black acrylic podium with the sunlight streaming in the window onto it. Next to it sat a photograph of Harry in uniform and a letter that he had written that accompanied the jar of sand he had sent to Mr. Perot from Afghanistan. The words in the letter were poignant, moving, eloquent, but most of all honest. I went to find Harry later and simply gave him a big hug and said 'thank you' as told him I understood.
Maybe the dragons that haunt him are telling us that he simply needs our love to help him heal.
Don't we all have that jar of sand that contains grains of sand so infinitesimal and flawed that we can hardly see them, but together they form a pain like none other? I feel our warriors pain. As one tried to explain his feelings following the amputation of a limb, "I am still on the table bleeding and not stitched back up and abandoned." These warriors want to live again but don't know how. I only wish flowers and ice cream would work.
I continue to pray for them and hope for the best because that is who I am. And if a Train a Dog - Save a Warrior Service Dog will work for just one of them, then I have not lived in vain.
"Conduct your blooming in the noise and the whip of the whirlwind. It's the last time we'll be here. And although there is much work to be done, and I will try my best to do it, I still believe in chocolate cake and sunshine." ~Gwendolyn Brooks