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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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10 Responses

  1. Thanks Kayce, yes I actually took this photo a couple of weeks ago at Whole Foods on a morning when the sun was streaming in over their floral display. I was glad to have my camera with me! I think waiting and listening for what wants to unfold is a powerful theme, and one that shapes my spiritual journey in a significant way. Blessings to you, Christine

  2. the sunflower is absolutely stunning! is it one of yours? your words remind me of one of my current themes of waiting and what is waiting to emerge. thank you!

  3. Thank you for your comments Me and Sally. I think in some way this is part of my fundamental work in the world, making space for grieving and for the transformation that emerges when the grief is fully honored.

    Blessings, Christine

  4. Christine you have the gift of turning a horrible experience into a blessing- to see the blessings through it- thank you for your honest sharing.

    Interestingly in answer to your final question I’ve just posted on deep healing! and experience in my life…

  5. “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. ”

    I more and more feel this – this grief that we do not allow people a place of their own but insist we all squeeze into the same place despite where we are in our lives (both physically and mentally).

  6. Thanks Pam, I agree that having the home as sanctuary makes all the difference. If you ever have the chance to walk a labyrinth, it is a powerful experience, better without a migraine though. :-)

    Thank you Cathleen for your kind words and blessings. Yes the fog and the labyrinth both offer potent images for this journey with the body.

    Blessings to you both, Christine

  7. What a wonderful metaphor using the labyrinth ~ it is so true of those days we are in pain and darkness, feeling far from the center. I’ve also thought about the fog you wrote of, how pain and darkness can be like walking in the fog, and again needing to trust that all we need to see are the next few steps. I grieve lost moments, days, weeks along side you but also give thanks for your resting and the loving support you have. May this week be especially gentle with you, offering the next gifts you need. Blessings and love, Cathleen
    P.S. The photo is a beautiful opening to your post…

  8. Having migraines myself, I appreciate the story about lost time. My husband has post traumatic stress disorder. We prefer to think of our home as sanctuary and guard it as such. Even in our church, sadly, we do not always experience sanctuary as we do in our home. I have never walked a labyrinth but I have lived a labyrinth. Your metaphor is appreciated. Blessings, Pam

  9. Thanks so much Bette, and thank you for your wonderful gift that arrived today. What a treat on this day of emerging! You will love the labyrinth! And I think we all probably need encouragement to surrender ourselves sometimes. I give you permission! :-)

  10. Christine, I’ve been thinking of you and am so glad to hear your migranes have disappeared allowing you to see the light once again…..sweet Tune by your side, also acknowledging and perhaps reminding the need to rest and heal. Lost moments aren’t so bad, for they bring new sunrises and opportunities. I’m going to a retreat in northern Cincinnati in March and will be walking my first labyrinth.

    I think I am the one who needs to offer myself permission to emerge or to rest :)

    Blessings and hugs,