Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Counting the graces

Several years ago, I became virtually acquainted with a young woman who was planning to teach in remote Alaska.  She had stumbled across my blog about my 5 weeks on St. Paul Island, in the Pribiloffs in the Bering Sea.  We corresponded for a time, and when she took a teaching position on Little Diomede, I followed her blog.  Through that, I found one of her friends who currently lives in China, and I enjoy reading about the experiences of her and her family while there.  She began signing off on her posts with the phrase "counting the graces" in which she thanks Father for the experiences of the day/week/whatever has come during that time.

I know there is much power in being thankful for the experiences that come our way, even when we don't like them, don't want them, and in fact, grieve because of them.  I have always tried to take the learning in a situation and grow from it, with deeper understanding of myself and others.

More and more these days, it is a struggle to do that:  I'm tired, and tired of having to deal with unkind people who give not a whit for whom they hurt; tired of people who feel such a sense of entitlement that they think they can do anything and it is okay; tired of people who feel such a sense of entitlement that they see no reason to demonstrate accountability, knowledge, skill; tired of people who abuse power in ways that harm others.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to spend 5 weeks on St. Paul Island, providing behavioral health services to the community.  It was a time when I felt that my clinical skills and training served me well, in allowing me to be of service to a community without a behavioral health provider at the time.  Though it was difficult, it was also rewarding, and infinitely of benefit.  It was the kind of "difficulty" that one can embrace in terms of learning and personal growth.  It was a life-saver to me, giving me a brief respite from what had become a very toxic environment, and the opportunity to search both within myself, and outside of myself for greater understanding, growth, and learn to live with that toxicity in a way that did not kill me, and ultimately allow me to triumph over it.
There are always ways to look at each situation: it is always the same picture, but the interpretation is the key.  For example, the photograph above.  Is it that there is always an opening, even when we are surrounded?  Or is it that regardless of which stand we stand on, when those flood waters are released, we are caught and there is no escaping them?  Is it a hunkering down in the safety of one corner of the solid rock, and clinging to the strength it provides to weather the worst storm?  Or is it to surrender to those waters, and float out, following the currents and waves to move around the rocks rather than through them, trusting the journey?

I'm trying to imagine what R or M would say in this situation.

counting the graces
thank you father
for red birds outside my window
two surviving baby kittens
my sister who cares selflessly for our parents, and is willing to take care of Randy's father as well
friends who have my back and friends who stab me in the back
the painful opportunity to remain in the inquiry and not in the circumstances
the fact that I can always choose, even when I am tired, and even when there are consequences
that it will always turn out.


Beth said...

I also found your blog and, in turn, those other blogs that you share. I count the graces, too, of knowing that I am not alone in my thoughts. There are others, who share the same thoughts, who have ups and downs and seek to see brightness through the clouds of life.

Suzassippi said...

Thank you, Beth. When I wrote this, this morning, I had no forewarning of how important counting the graces would be today.