Now that I Know…
These are the words of my spiritual director, a radical priest who holds space in a small loft in Portland. I’m not a Catholic, but I trust this guy.
I’ve just weathered the traumatic accidental drowning of a friend and an addiction crisis with a family member. Both were situations requiring me to find the ground under my feet ASAP while at the same time surrendering to all the things I couldn’t control even if I wanted to. Other people’s needs seemed to dictate my days.
Now that I know, he said quietly.
What? I asked, leaning in.
What did you learn? What do you know now that you didn’t know before? He asked.
For a moment the overwhelm and fog lifted. Clarity. A felt sense of calm, a perspective. A way to move on.
This question is one I find myself still when I’ve just been through Something.
What do I know NOW? After the anxiety and confusion and losses of the last couple of years, it’s a critical question. What lessons has this time in history offered up for me, at a deeply personal level? The old growth forest and my summer home, two things that anchored me to the deep healing of nature are gone.
I’ve lost friends to Covid and to QAnon. With or without my mask, people who once smiled or waved seem somehow distant. Elders in my community seem more frail. And my 14-year-old dog struggles more every day on our one-mile stroll/sniff.
Life. Now that I know its losses more personally, how do I renew my vows, now that I know how very fragile the things I always took for granted are, what do I know?
I look around me this summer morning. The ground is still there. My heart is still beating. My feet are still walking. The sky that served up a Heat Bubble last week is offering clouds and the sweet distant ocean moisture.
Now that I know the JOMO (the Joy of Missing Out) on the complications of community and over-commitment, there’s a steadier connection with my own clarity of purpose, with my own heart. With solitude and sovereignty of my very own life.
Now that I know this joy, how willing am I to throw it away trying to create the world from Before Times? Sounds a lot like a new episode of my ongoing life challenge setting boundaries.
I’m not willing to give up too much of myself to others. But will I? Sometimes. And that’s okay.
Because when I remember this simplicity, this moment, I have the necessary grounding to discern what’s worth keeping. And then I venture with a deeper understanding of what I need in the Now Time.