Reading a novel by the exquisite writer Ann Patchett allows me to take her hand and go where she goes. It’s easy to decide, even in the first few pages, that I’m on board and can trust her guidance.
On page one of “State of Wonder” Ann writes: “When she saw him there at the door she smiled at him and in the light of that smile he faltered.”
Her simple words give reason enough to connect with this man and this woman, and now I’m standing in the light of that smile, too.
I see these two, I feel their appreciation for each other, their tenderness, and for just a moment, I’m there in the doorway, because of what Ann said.
She invited me into this private moment, into soft-hearted appreciation. She invited me to remember the moment I was in my own kitchen, and Eric in the doorway, when I smiled at him and he faltered. She invited me to remember the beginning of when Eric and I decided to be together.
Too, Ann wrote “in the light of that smile” — and I faltered about her writing. I softened. I gave her my hand, willingly, and said take me with you.
Partway down page one, I’m all hers, all in.
The morning view from my great room, deck or even my bedroom is the kind of view that causes this same kind of heart moment. The blue mountains in the distance, the mist in the valley, the sun rising — all of these give spaciousness to my being, and I awaken in awe, every single day.
This only happens, though, because I have given my hand to Mother Nature to say please lead me to wherever you’re going.
She says, “Good Morning, come with me, let me show you this day… ” and I follow, because I know her and enjoy her surprises.
ON THE OTHER HAND
Over the years, I have come to know that resisting (anything, anyone) is hard work. It’s hard on every part of me.
Resistance was my specialty for many years, however, because somehow I thought being firmly decided made me a better person. Even knowing the cost of resisting, I can’t say I’ve abandoned it altogether. It’s an old habit.
But when Eric passed, something happened to me that I don’t understand fully, and for all I know, may never understand.
I can only say, these days, it is easier for me to offer my hand when I’m being lead.
Life is inviting me to do things I’ve never done before. I figured out how to get a French drain installed in front of the garage (what in the world is a French drain and why should I have one?) and how to replace a laundry sink with a kitchen sink cabinet. I found someone to fix a serious roof leak on a Sunday in pouring rain.
Since Eric passed, I’ve been invited to walk forward more often in ways I never did in the past. And I’m more willing. It’s like this: instead of railing against the cold wind, the gray day, or ice, I’m more willing to falter in the direction of cozy jackets, hot tea, or warm soup.
Even if I’m afraid of something, or worried, or tentative, I’ve found the hand of fear isn’t so bad after all.
I walk forward, I look around, I feel what I’m feeling. Since I’m there, like it or not, holding hands with fear, I figure I might as well notice the scenery.
I might as well walk with, rather than run from — welcome rather than reject. It’s easier on me.
This is a process. Does one still blurt when over the edge? Does one unravel when one is in complete non-acceptance?
Sure. Yes. Absolutely.
I did it just the other day. A hand was leading me and I didn’t go. I blurted. I sobbed. I was beside myself.
A deeply compassionate woman listened to me with the kind of ears you can only hope for when you’re upset, the kind that hear the river of love and acceptance running under everything.
So yes, without a doubt, learning to take the hand that’s leading is a process.
Take your time. Shift gears whenever you can, and when you can’t, do what you gotta do.
Nobody that I recall ever said a Capricorn is speedy. Being goats and all, we’re agile and surefooted and willing to navigate steep slopes, whatever they may be. But we’re not exactly leaping about on the mountainside.
Finally, at last, just in time, right on time — I’m learning to offer my hand to whatever or whoever is leading me on the side of that mountain to where I’m going anyway.