Texas sure knows how to do thunder.
Sitting in the car while big ‘ole fat rain pounded on the roof, I reached over to grab my phone. In line for school pick up, Facebook and a smartphone provide ample entertainment and distraction. (Yes, I was parked. No, I do not look at my phone while driving.) This time, I reached into my purse only to realize I’d left it in my work bag. At home. “That’s okay,” I thought to myself. “I’ll use this time to read my book.”
Yep, left that at home, too.
I had to just sit. And wait. The school pick up line requires about 30 minutes of waiting time, more if you arrive early to be near the start of the line. I looked out the window and admired the bright bolts streaking against the clouds while the booms shook the car. There isn’t really anything quite like a real thunderstorm.
This date makes many of us reflective, myself included. I’ve written about 9/11. It’s been 14 years. Fourteen. Looking up at the clouds, I saw a tiny circle of blue in the middle of all the ominously gray and black clouds. Reminded of a quote my niece shared recently, I forgot all about the phone and book I had neglected to bring.
“Think about the eye of a hurricane, or the calm still center of a cyclone. No matter how intense the storm or what’s swept up in its gale-force winds, that calm, blue center is always there. This is the metaphor I like to use when talking about the space between stimulus and response. We all have this quiet center within us. Mindfulness reconnects us to this center space, where we fully experience the present moment and have access to the transcendent wisdom that’s often associated with conscious flow. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, neurologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl famously described it this way: ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – George Mumford, The Mindful Athlete
It has been a while since I’ve just been. To pray something more than, ‘Oh give me strength to get through this day,’ ‘I need more patience with the kids,’ or ‘Help me say the right words, be more kind, do well at my job etc.’ -type of prayers, to just sit in the ‘blue space’ and be. And ask for nothing.
I thought about the friend of a friend whose baby is battling cancer. Cancer. A 1 year old. ‘How does she pray?’ I found myself wondering. In the blue space, I found myself not only saying a prayer for her and her sweet babe, but saying thank you. Thank you that my children are healthy.
I have a client who is paralyzed from the waist down. She comes in to workout, and she works hard. Not only the physical aspects of lifting weight and doing exercises, but she works hard at ignoring the pitying glances. She doesn’t want or need pity. She’s just there to do her work. She has goals to walk again. She has hope. I find myself thinking of her and her strength. What it takes to even get to the gym, let alone battle the stares once she arrives. In that blue space, I am thankful for a body that does what I need it to do and then some. I get to run for fun. I can go to whatever store or restaurant I want to and not think about what the infrastructure will be like and will it accommodate a wheelchair.
I get to work with people. People who want and need help. I have met some incredible folks who humble me on multiple levels. People who are dealing with some crazy-hard life stuff. But while dealing with what life has thrown at them, they continue to show up. They continue to have hope. To be brave. Had I not said, “Yes,” to invitations, had I been too afraid to step outside of my comfort zone time after time, my life would be entirely different. I am so grateful for the yes; even to the scary stuff. Because of the yes, I now get a daily front row view of bravery and hope in action.
On days like today, it’s easy for me to get swept into the heavy heart stuff. In the blue space thinking about the last year, as well the day fourteen years ago, I find myself unable to say anything other than thank you.
I’m so glad I forgot my phone. I needed some time in the blue space.