The Scent of Lilies

Posted by on 01.24.11 | 3 Comments
Filed Under forgiveness, unexpected grace

I longed for the fog yesterday, something to cover my world in dense grey mist, an external manifestation of my internal lostness, that terrible sense that I’m not sure why I’m here or where I’m going. Instead, it was gloriously sunny outside. And the stargazer lilies were finally beginning to bloom, offering up their enchanting scent.

I have shifted from the well mapped rigors of my CPE residency back to the questions of transition, the challenge of creating my own structure, setting goals, waking in the morning with a clear plan of action and the sense I can to carry it out, a sense I don’t have today. Structure is not easy for me. I get overwhelmed with too many choices, thwart myself with doubt, and long for support and insight that comes from outside me when I know that every essential answer is within me, from the Divine.

So I made sure I was at Sunday Night Improv Class. Connecting with classes familiar to me and exploring voice work as another avenue for income offers me balance with intensity of my personality and my life, more people to meet, time to laugh. Somehow, last night we seemed to create scenes full of poignant loss, mental illness, the persistent struggles of the human journey. During the break one of my fellow class members shared how his wife was killed two years ago in a car crash, how he’s been journeying with grief and his own as yet unanswered questions since. The heaviness in my spirit was not abated.

I decided to drive home via instinct, something fun, a way to affirm myself. How lost could I get in one little seven mile peninsula named for St. Francis? I’d been here for over a year now. Certainly I could wander until I found a familiar street name, a known neighborhood which would then point me towards home. And so my drive home began with a sense of adventure. Within minutes I was surprised I didn’t recognize surroundings. I soon realized I was wandering aimlessly, not even sure I was headed in the right direction.

The metaphor that this is how I feel in my life right now crashed over my awareness like tall ocean waves on a rocky North West coast. I’m wandering, moving, stopping, turning, reassessing, journeying, but with no clue where I’m going. I felt fear, that cool hard fist deep in my gut. Outside the contained little world of my Pontiac Vibe named Wilson, people were walking the well lit night streets. There was a man pushing a baby carriage, a group of about five bicyclers in flip flops with lights on their heads, couples walking arm and arm. Everyone looked well placed and happy in the world moving around me. In my car, I was still afraid. I finally found Divisadero where I was able to aim for home and know each right choice to get there. A drive of only a few miles took 40 minutes.

As a health care chaplain, each day patients teach me that certainty, this promise of right made goals fulfilling human potential, is an illusion. Every day I watch them grapple with pain and suffering, finding peace and love in the ruins of their health. My journeying with transition is apparently much the same. Some days, realizing I am lost is as good as it gets. As I accept this lostness, living the questions that come, believing I will someday somewhere find what I am seeking, I can still cherish the scent of lilies.

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