in a Dying Father, Crying Mother, Drunk Brother
We were coming up on two years of bonus life—almost two years past what any doctors or anybody thought my dad could live, and the days and nights were now very intense. My successful and acclaimed career was now in a new arena: Rev Caregiver. While it seemed a little too natural sometimes, at times it seemed strangely foreign and stressful.
I vacillated between wanting him to live and wanting him not to, if it meant suffering. Cancer, another cancer, another cancer, bleeding ulcer, collapsing lungs, no sleep, crushing medicines and praying they will go through the feeding tube, breathing treatments…. “Why, when, how, how long?” My mind needed to know!
The internal “shoulds” were endless. And always in the recesses of my mind was the thinking that had been my personal cross to bear: “Ending suffering is up to me.” This is a belief of mine since early childhood, when I innocently bought into the illusion that I could change someone else’s experience, could change the world, could change what is and/or what would be. I adopted a delusional/mistaken paradigm of what healing is.
Thankfully, I was on a strong spiritual foundation built through a myriad of principles and practices I had experienced, including Unity’s core principle of “There is only one power and one presence in the universe and in my life—and it is good.” Does that mean that I have to actually apply that truth in this situation?
Religious Science studies and practices taught me to “change my life by changing my mind.” Great idea and no easy task, particularly when loved ones are in the picture.
I had been practicing “The Work” of Byron Katie for several years, and so for months, literally, I spent hours sitting in the hospital with Daddy, questioning, questioning, witnessing story after story, and so many of my beliefs held in mind collapsed into the truth of reality. Repeatedly I discovered that nothing, no thing that stressed me, was true. Wow! How could this be?
As a result, I had a heightened capacity to be with my dad, my family and even his medical teams—fully present, highly effective and peaceful, regardless of what the latest test result or drama was in some critical and intense moments. I was living in a state of gratitude and faith that life is the way it is supposed to be—just not what I preferred sometimes.
One night the spiritual pop quiz came. Had I really healed this?
My youngest brother Randy showed up at our house in a drunken, or a well-past drunken, state in the middle of the night. He was loud, threatening to kill me and to take over the care of the family. He was as wildly incapacitated as I’ve ever seen throughout a progressive twenty years of alcoholism. Let’s just say, it was no little thing. Or was it? Could it be that this too was “for me”?
My mother began crying, wailing, yelling—afraid, worried, angry and completely confused about what to do. My dying dad lay on the bed in the silence that was his default of 70 years.
I was very present to it all—grounded in reality and aware of options. I waited and waited for an internal reaction, the judgments, the stressful thoughts, and the only thing I could see was the innocence in each of these people. Equal, yes, equal: life/death, crying/laughing, courageous/frightened, yelling/silence, angry/happy and needing/contented.
In the moment, I noticed—I am breathing, I am filled with the presence of something greater than me or this situation, and aware of no need for anything to be different than this moment. From a place of clarity and real peace, I noticed I may actually be able to assist in this situation. I was in a less anxious presence, calmer and empowered to change what I can, and clear to accept what I cannot. Accepting that reality. Knowing the difference. Grace. Strangely, the entire scene shifted. When the mind/projector is clear, so is the projection.
Let peace begin with me. Healing is an inside job. I can end suffering in one place—my own mind. From that place, I am available to assist and serve others. In dialogue with Neale Donald Walsch one time, I asked, “What is my purpose in life?” He smiled and responded, “Heal the space you are in.” Great advice. God helps me to apply it anytime I am conscious of it.
For more about “The Work” of Byron Katie as a profound and profoundly simple technique to question the mind, find truth, turnaround and live a life in freedom, go to www.TheWork.com.
“When you realize the boundlessness of your spiritual inheritance, nothing shall be lacking in all your world.”
“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal.”—Rumi
“People talk about self-realization, and this is it! Can you just breathe in and out? To hell with enlightenment! Just enlighten yourself in every moment. Can you just do that? Then, eventually, it all collapses. The mind finds a home in the heart. The mind merges with the heart and comes to see that it is not separate. The mind finds a home in the heart and it rests. It cannot be threatened, scolded or frightened away. Until the stories are met with understanding, there is no peace. Only love and understanding heal.”
“The work, my work has confirmed and reinforced what I have come to know through trial and error … one should not and cannot fix others—for the work is theirs to do and so benefit. Fixing is often enabling, not allowing others to develop the wisdom and strength to manage their lives. Fixing often leads to conflict as others may react negatively to our diagnosis and treatment plan. Fixing is all about us trying to make ourselves feel better about us.”
—Rev Rob Hunter, President, Unity Canada