Since my last post 4 amazing weeks have gone by. They have been weeks filled with so many different experiences and have taken place in 3 different countries. In this moment I’m reflecting on all of the things I had the opportunity to “be with” during that time.
In Indiana I had the chance to be with joy – so much joy. The sounds of glee that came out of my mother’s mouth when Kevin and I surprised her with our visit for the holidays. The big, warm hug I received from my dad just moments after. The smiling, laughter and energy of my nieces and nephews. The “friendly competition” that always accompanies family games. The loud and heartfelt karaoke session among the sisters. Giving and receiving presents. Early morning runs in the chilly farmlands. Celebrating the 47th anniversary of my parents over delicious food. Sharing recovery. Quality time with parents and sisters. And it goes on… I also shared the experience of being with pain. The pain of realizing how much I miss by not being near my family. The physical pain being suffered by members of my family. The emotional and spiritual pain that has a strong grip on some of my siblings. Joy and pain.
In Indonesia, I was blessed to be with so many gifts. The indescribable beauty of the Gili Islands. The spaciousness and light of our cottage. The surprising connection with new friends. Mornings in the bright breakfast spot. Sweet smiles and kind, playful words of the island people. Warm afternoons in the sun around the pool. Delicious fish and seafood at a variety of intriguing restaurants. Shopping and bargaining with Papa Botel at a small art shack on our island. Yoga practiced in a beautiful bamboo space. Massages to our hearts end. Jogs around the island. Exploring new islands. Early-rising to watch breath taking sunsets. Connection, laughter and closeness with my partner. There too, were moments of being with tension and disappointment. My mind’s persistent questions about whether or not the honeymoon was as good as it could be. Was I as present and connected as I could be? “Don’t blow it, this is a one-time trip with your partner.” Feelings of self-criticism for trying too hard at certain times. Gifts and disappointments.
Now back in Vietnam, I am have the opportunity to practice “being with” the transition to our home here in Dong Hoi city. Again, presence to both beauty and challenge. Immediately, we are presented with some uncomfortable realities. The ever-present mosquitos. The humidity that seems to threaten mold in every moment. Three days of ongoing plumbing issues in our bathrooms and kitchen (with resolution still unmet). Floors that never seem to get clean. A huge change in daily pattern – from relaxation and connection, to catching up and diving into 3 different volunteer roles. And again there is beauty. The view of the water directly across from our home. The jogs through our sweet town. Reconnecting with friends at charming cafes and restaurants. Catching up on life and work with our beloved Khanh Ha. Attempting to get back into our learning of Vietnamese. The experience of people, sounds and the life of a crowded night fair. Continuous honking as a form of ongoing communication. Movement in our work with Swim for Life, Mindfulness Yoga for Empowerment, and Professional Development at Quang Binh University. Evening episodes of Downton Abbey in bed. My partner’s delicious cooking. Time and space to reflect, write and read. Challenge and beauty.
For me, the practice of “being with” is about acceptance. It’s about accepting my emotional, mental and spiritual state. It’s about accepting the actions and feelings of others. It’s about not resisting the things that must be done for basic survival. It’s about being as open as possible to receiving all the love and goodness available in each moment, and particularly those times when the love and grace are especially potent. It’s about creating space to be present to what is, thus allowing us to “be with” it. Surrendering. Embracing. Letting be and pass. Trusting. How is the practice of “being with” unfolding for you? Where are the places that you find the most resistance to being with? Those may be places we typically call painful or joyful. Where are the places where you easily find yourself connected and allowing of the present moment? In these reflections and experiences, let us all remember to be gentle, to be easy, to go slow – to connect with the Divine mother who brings comfort and nurturance, understanding and peace. May we be graced with moments of resting in that place, being with the love that is always available to each of us.