Wednesday, July 28, 2021
After a two-week vacation in Wyoming, my husband and I find ourselves stranded in Denver, CO. On the way through, up to Wyoming, our van broke down. Without time to fix it or do much planning at all, we left it with my cousin, who happens to be a car mechanic. He wasn’t even there—we just left it in his lot with a “see ya! Feel free to tinker with it if you have time.” We’ve returned to a puzzled cousin, followed by more puzzled mechanics at the dealership, and a van that still doesn’t work. There are twelve hours and 850 miles between here and St. Louis.
As I tell people what’s going on, I’m using words like “stuck” and “stranded.” Yet I’m starting to question this, realizing the negative implications of those words and how, really, this is turning into an opportunity.
I began to notice it right away—in three days of being “stuck” John and I having more alone time together after weeks of hosting family up at the Wyoming mountain cabin. We love hosting and sharing that place with others, but it also means we have less time just for each other. Married without kids, and after a year of COVID lock downs, we’re pretty used to plenty of just-us time. As we found ourselves back in Denver, without a plan, little hope for our van, waiting to hear the expertise of others, we had little to do but wait. On day one we made our way to a sweet little café next to the REI in downtown Denver, and I found myself taking a deep breath. My soul seemed to say, “Oh… this is really nice.” The café was called “Just Be” and as we ate our organic food and sipped our CBD laced lattes I settled. I felt the whisper of a blessing. Of unexpected grace. Of space, carved out, where before there had been only rush and panic to “get things figured out.”
This is a familiar feeling for me, especially when staring down the unknown—super charging ahead, making plans, worried about what will come, trying to think it all through. The gift of pause often catches me by surprise. The grace can take the breath out of me—or better yet, bring it swiftly back into me. I am caught by the awareness of being held, suspended, by a moment of respite and clarity where it seemed there would be none.
This has only ballooned this week, as plans elude us and everything keeps changing. Will we have a van or not? Is it fixable or do we have to start looking for something new? Will we be stranded in Denver or somehow, hopefully soon, make it back home?
Early in the week I called a healer my aunt had told me about years ago, that I tried to make appointments with before but could never get in. Alas, this time she had a cancellation and an opening! When I told her our situation, she laughed and said, “hey, I knew someone whose car broke down here and they stayed for twenty years!” As much as I love Denver, I don’t see that in our future. The hour-plus session that followed was one of the most profound and healing energy sessions I’ve ever had. She cleared things out of my energetic field that had been ‘stuck’ for years. Insights welled up in me that had been longing to be named. I left feeling lighter, freer, truer to my authentic self. A blessing indeed!
As the days we weren’t supposed to be here stretch into days we’re still here, the delights keep finding us. It’s a gift to spend more time with family—brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and others in Denver that we love. Looking for good food, we’ve been google-led to treasures that have nourished us. Yesterday’s lunch spot was a café, “Nest”, nestled in a healing co-op, “Nurture” that was like looking at the template of something I’ve dreamed about creating or collaborating on for years—a community of healers, seekers, dreamers and health-nuts, working and playing and staying well together—all housed in what clearly used to be a Catholic elementary school. Wild, weird and wonderful at once!
Today, on an early morning run with my dog, I stood on the edge of a beautiful lake, with the Rocky mountains in the not-too-far distance. It was cool and the sun was beginning to warm everything—an idyllic mountain summer day in the making. Again, I was given a moment to breathe in beauty, to behold wonder, to just be. Wandering Denver has led me into neighborhoods ripe with flowers, fruits, vegetables and endless food for thought for our own urban cultivations.
Last night my sister-in-law asked, “How are you holding up, with all these changes, this unknown?” I replied something to the effect of, “I’m good, but sorry to be imposing on you guys so much!” as our visit turns into an extended stay. She reassured me it was all good, and I became acutely conscious anew of the privilege of generous family, financial security and freedom of work that so many simply don’t have. This too is all grace— so much unearned, a circumstance of birth and interconnection. How do I receive such grace? What do I, in turn, choose to do with this gift of life and love?
As I find myself reflecting on her question, “how are you?”, I feel a deep well of goodness. I’m better than when I landed here, expecting to leave with a repaired van within days. I am reminded that things are never what we expect, and that everything is always changing. I find Teresa of Avila’s prayer streaming through my consciousness—“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything is changing. God alone never changes. Patience attains the goal. She who has God lacks nothing. God alone fills every need.”
What would life be like if I could regularly roll with change, rather than resist? This week has brought me the opportunity to practice this very thing and has become a doorway into much. It’s more time with my husband. It’s sinking into the generosity of family and friends. It’s humility in the face of great privilege. It’s suspension—where I can’t plan or make happen, so I must just be. It’s trust—in myself and others, but mostly, in Life, or God. It’s the release, bit by bit, of the illusion that I’m in control. It’s falling, and in doing so, opening to discovery— of people and places, beauty and synchronicity. It’s life handing me gifts and bringing blessings where all I seemed to see was frustration and “things not going according to plan.” What’s the plan anyway, and what happens when it changes?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and in some ways, this week just feels like a deepening, a way to practice and integrate what life has been bringing me for a while. I turn 40 on Friday. In many ways, this birthday marks something huge in me, in my soul. A re-route of sorts, a reclamation. My life looks nothing like what I “thought” forty would look like. It has been an amazing four decades of life, and very challenging too. One thing I know to be true: everything is always changing. I’m not in control. I get to create, yes; cooperate, yes; celebrate, YES! But control? No. So I choose, as I choose this week, to flow. To live. To keep loving what is, no matter what. And to give as I have been given, to be best of my ability.
Ok, ok, but what about our van? Are we actually going to make it to St. Louie? When the van first started having trouble, our cousin (the mechanic) let us drive his son’s truck around for a while, as we tried to get things in order. I joked that that was the truck I’d dreamed about owning since I was old enough to drive (really—I’ve always wanted a truck). Today John jokingly asked how much for it—an older model Toyota Tacoma but in amazing shape. My cousin responded in all seriousness, and it looks like I’ll be driving my dream truck back to St. Louis, on my birthday. Some things you just can’t plan for.
** I learned a long time ago to support and fortify myself through a variety of resources. I want to share a couple that have gotten me through this week—Yoga with Adriene, especially her “Yoga For Flexible Mind and Body” video. Her yoga is so sweet, simple and seems to always be just the theme I need. Also, I’ve been reading the book “Trusting the Gold: Uncovering Your Inner Goodness” by Tara Brach. It is prayerful, beautifully illustrated, so relevant and a pleasure to read. Hope these might support you too!