I could feel the panic rising inside me. It was 2007 and I had finally found out what was wrong with me after two years. But this had the effect of burning up my savings faster as I pursued treatment. It was like running at top speed towards the edge of a cliff. You need momentum in order to have a chance of taking off into the air. But you might fall over the edge. To make matters worse, my improvement appeared to be stalling.
There was nothing else to do except call Tracy Beckerley. “Why did I get Chronic Fatigue?” I had met Tracy at my birthday celebration during healthier times. The party favor was a fifteen minute Tarot card reading and I loved the way Tracy combined her psychology degree with intuitive skills.
“You are doing more spiritual work than most people get to do in an entire lifetime,” Tracy said. “It’s as if you were dragged into your work kicking and screaming when you went into surgery.” She also said something I didn’t understand about how I had to learn to receive.
Meanwhile, even before calling Tracy, I had been considering the possibility that surrender might be the answer to the panic I was beginning to feel. My logic went something like this:
- Many religions seem to promote surrender as a way of dealing with challenging times. (I interpreted surrender as focussing on the present without worrying about the future. Although, I think planning is allowed!)
- I don’t have the personality for surrender.
- What if I took everything one week at a time? I could think about what I need to do in order to be alright for the next week and then check in with myself a week later.
- Perhaps I could have a fun ritual to remind me to check in every seven days.
- Ritual every seven days? Maybe that’s what church is!!!!
When I was little, my mother, father and I went boating on Sundays. Most people seemed to go to church. Finally I asked a friend what they do there. She had a little confused frown on her face as she spoke: “You pray and then you sing.”
I pressed her further. “Then what?”
“Then you pray and you sing … again.”
“That’s it?!” I exclaimed. “That’s what this church thing is all about?”
In 2007 my search for a church I would enjoy attending led to Grace Cathedral. As I explored their wonderful website, I discovered they had a program where you could attend classes every week and then get confirmed at the end. It was designed for people who were new to the Anglican/Episcopalian faith, Christian or not. It was also intended for those who had not been to church for a long time. Ahem.
I decided that attending a class every Sunday would also allow me to measure my recovery status. I found out that I couldn’t sustain the effort on top of my treatment protocol. Shortly after the confirmation service, I gave up church again. But the classes were fantastic. They talked about the Episcopalian church being a family where our differences bring us together. Wow! I was used to being so different in my family that I felt like a freak. And now my difference is what I had to offer? This was water for my thirsty soul!
One of the final classes was given by a professor from a divinity school in Berkeley. “I don’t mean to ask you an existential question but who or what is God?” I said to him as we both stood in a corner of the room. He laughed and laughed. Soon, we were both doubled over laughing.
Eventually, he answered. “I don’t know,” he replied. Wow!!
I’ll have to see if I can attend Grace Cathedral’s sundown Easter service from my computer tonight. But first, I must tell you what I have come to understand about Tracy’s comment. According to Masaru Emoto in his book The Hidden Messages in Water, the act of love is a masculine, giving force while gratitude is a passive, receptive force. They work together like breathing in and breathing out. He believes that we should strive for a balance between giving and receiving, or love and gratitude. Wow!!!
So many people, from Realitynibs readers to friends and relatives, have taught me a lot about receiving lately. As I mentioned to someone a couple of days ago, I’m beginning to think Chronic Fatigue came in to my life in order to teach me to receive help. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
And, happy Easter.