Books, boxes & banana leaves
By April of 2016 I was journaling with a vengeance, pouring my heart out onto paper on a daily basis. I had gotten away from it during the most depressed of my days (months), but as the door cracked open the slightest bit, I grabbed my pen and puked my emotions out onto the pages.
My friend Eva had recommended I look into the works of a powerful woman named Carolynn Myss; I did and ended up devouring her books and youtube videos. I was starving for information that made sense to me, but that didn’t necessarily fit into any of the slots from my prior belief system, of which Myss surely did not, and her insights began to take root and breathe life into my heart and mind. Little by little.
I was also introduced to other writers and communicators such as Gregg Braden, Byron Katie, and the super well-known Deepak Chopra. Again, if I had perused their information in prior years I would have rejected it out of hand because it didn’t jive with my preconceived religious mindset. But what they were saying was beautiful, amazing, and quite frankly, offered me aspects of healing that I found lacking in my former world. I even found healing waters by resting in the tranquil words of Pema Chodran, a Buddhist. (Shhh, don’t tell anybody…).
Of course I was still making the (usually) daily treks to the beach, basking in the sunshine, soaking in nature, but now I was actually looking forward to those ventures. Nature would bring me closer to where I sensed that maybe I could feel the presence of God, but I still did not know who he was, and I certainly did not trust him yet. Many of these authors/speakers were starting to ignite something within me, though, and I was edging up to the precipice of a whole new understanding of who the creator might be. Of how the universe might be.
It is interesting how the little things can sometimes be the catalysts for the greatest change in our lives, or perhaps it is that we see them as little. For me, it was a combination of the wind, the sun, and banana leaves! How could that be so significant you ask? Well, as I recall it was late July and I was simply sitting upstairs in my little stilted house (which by the way was actually no longer stilted, per se, as we had built on two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen below!), absentmindedly staring out the window. My attention was captured by the wind as it fluttered through a young banana tree that we had previously planted, the green leaves waving at me and reflecting shimmers of sunlight in my direction. Here you go, Meg, it seemed to suggest, just for you! This simple beauty touched my heart, my spirit instantly overflowing with gratitude, my mind catching on to a subtle fact that would help sustain me over the coming weeks, months and I believe, forever. I recognized that I was in…the present moment, a very important, life-changing reality, and that in this thing we call the present moment I did not have a past or future, but a time of loving what is now. And I Ioved that sweet little banana tree synchronistically teaming up with the sun and wind to make me happy.
The last thing I want to do is belittle the effect of grief and loss. I cannot do so, for I know as well as anyone the great and seemingly unconquerable power that these emotions can lord over us. But only if we allow ourselves to remain chained to the past and its tantalizing pains, or fearful of the future and its innumerable possibilities. Pain is real. Grief is real. But if we can live in this moment, only this one moment, we can begin to see that there might be hope.
I came to the conclusion that I was exhausted from being angry (I can hear you laughing, but you know what I mean!). I decided to visualize the act of laying down my sword, the one I was slicing up the air with as I aimed for God. I wanted to trust again, more than ever. I was tired of feeding my heart a steady diet of sadness, and with examples like the banana leaves, I instinctively knew that my soul was better nourished when I took in good things. The “why” question fit into the sadness box, so I decided to place it there, and hopefully leave it. I began a quest to look for those things that gave me life. It may sound simple, and to some degree it is, but for me it was a monumental decision; I was still within the first year of losing my daughter. It’s not that anything especially dramatic was happening, as I was still journaling, reading, listening, taking notes, walking on the beach, and all, but things were slowly beginning to shift.
During this period of time I met another woman who would impact my life, Linda, a woman who knew deep pain. It was wonderful to now have two beautiful friends that I could talk to, cry on their shoulders and rely on.
Up until August almost all of my journey of healing was experienced, you might say, within walking distance of my new home in Costa Rica. However, after becoming interested in the works of Gregg Braden, as mentioned earlier, we found out that he was to be a featured speaker at a grief conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That combination lured us in and my husband and I decided to make the trip. His synergistic merging of science (geology background), spirit, and the real world was intriguing.
The workshop was beautiful, as we experienced amazing compassion from fellow grievers and counselors. In particular, we met a man who had lost his wife to cancer when she was twenty-six, and both of his daughters in an automobile accident a few years later. Ted Wiard had contemplated ending his life many times during that trying period, but now he stood before us with as radiant a smile as I had ever seen. He had somehow transformed his pain into a heart of thankfulness and forgiveness, and was now helping others with his story. Though I did not see myself ever approaching his level of healing, I was certainly encouraged.
Another few steps had been taken, each one important, but I reminded myself that I was still less than ten months removed from Hannah’s death. I had to keep plugging.