I spent most of the weekend curled up in bed nursing my migraines.  They began Friday morning when we had our Monthly Gathering, a wonderful morning of walking the labyrinth together except that I was in a bit of a haze from pain killers.  That afternoon I was able to get my infusion two weeks early because of my recent achiness, but it always makes me tired.  I came home that afternoon and slept for hours and continued like that through the weekend.  My beloved husband, knowing that light really bothers me when I get these headaches, closed every last blind in our condo, so I could retreat to my cave for healing.  Sweet Tune spent many of my sleeping hours curled up next to me.  There were so many lovely things I was going to do this weekend too, like go to my friend’s 40th birthday party, see the school play my husband has been working on with his students for the last couple of months, and go to my monthly Oblate meeting.  But none of these happened.  I grieve a little for those missed opportunities, but my body is so grateful for the chance to simply rest.

This morning I woke up feeling almost clear-headed and well-rested.  I have opened up all the blinds again in our home to let in some of the morning’s light.  My heart sings at what the day presents.  When I walked the labyrinth Friday, I was open to whatever needed to come in my prayer that morning.  What struck me as most significant was that on this particular labyrinth, based on the one at Chartres Cathedral, because of the way the path is laid, right before you get to the center you are actually on the outside of the circle and conversely, right before you exit the labyrinth, the path moves close to the center. 

How often in life we feel as far from our center as we can get, and then something stirs or awakens within us and we find ourselves right in the heart of the holy again.  That is my experience of being in pain and then the relief that follows, like being plunged back into my own center.  And because of having just walked on the edges of life, I seize this moment in time, this perfectly beautiful moment where I can feel fully myself.  I honor it as the gift that it is knowing that tomorrow may be different.

I mourn for the lost moments too, the times when immersed in pain I wonder if I will ever return to the land of health, or not being able to be fully present to those I love.  I grieve for all those who are faced with the limits of the body and not given the support they need.  I lament that we live in a culture that does not encourage us to retreat into the cave of our own healing when we need to. 

There is great wisdom to be found in this underside of life.  To recognize that everything is gift, that love is all that really matters, that life is so very precious.

Is there a part of you ready to emerge into the world again?  Or are you called to deeper healing?  Is there someone in your life who needs you to offer permission to rest?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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