Okay, 2012 sort of kicked my butt. Yes. It was a stern teacher springing pop quizzes on my unsuspecting soul, re-teaching me things I thought I had already learned, only to discover that I had acquired a sturdy mental assent on theory but the lessons hadn’t completely made it to my heart. Like a strategist leaning over a map, pushing little red pins into cardboard mountains, I hovered over my kingdom, protecting and projecting, paying no attention at all to the massive gift from the Trojans being rolled into my foyer.
I had paused at a place of mature complacency, mistaking it for experience, so when this particular quiz was placed in front of me again I had no fear of failing it. It was familiar, and although it contained some of the more difficult questions on life, I was somewhat eager to wear out a pencil or two with my clever answers.
What I hadn’t counted on were the trick questions, and the touchy language being used (with many words having more than one meaning) to convey the questions. Being a somewhat direct person I took the questions at face value, answering straightforwardly. I was overly confident, imagining my certificate of competency hanging smugly above my desk. But then I noticed that things weren’t adding up. I used the old formula when calculating the answers, but it wasn’t working. It had been years since I’d used this method; I figured I had forgotten a step or two. Should I subtract or carry over? Bah!
I was tempted to raise my hand in question, but the administrator had left the classroom, leaving a curvaceous hourglass to mark time, spilling away the sandy hours grain by grain in agonizing silence.
It wasn’t fair. The rules were arbitrary and ruthless, independent of earthly reason. One would have to be God to know the answers or at least a clairvoyant. I revisited the history of the quiz, when it was last given, my mental and emotional status at the time, and noticed that the last time this test was given I was fifteen and sorely disadvantaged. My adolescent perception was that I had lost all when I failed this exam. I carried this loss with me throughout my adult life. I lived in loss, ate in loss, and loved in loss.
Like an amputee, I learned how to do everything with a missing limb. The compensation became normal. I was an accomplished amputee. What more could be expected of me? I was proud of myself. I did well.
But here I was again, trying to pass the same damn test, figuring that with all these years of experience I would pass the exam without having to raise a brow or scratch out a notion. But I was wrong. Once again I’d become ensnared and was facing years, possibly the rest of my life, as a double amputee, for no doubt, I would lose another limb or perhaps even my heart this time.
I was determined to save myself from such a fate and find enough of the answers to earn a passing grade. A “C” or even a “D” would suffice. This went on for many months and then one day, while fretting over the exam, I became distracted by a bird resting on a branch outside my window. The bird was grey with black markings on his head and wings. He flitted along a thin branch, perching at last on a woody finger pointing heavenward and singing as he preened himself into a chubby puff. With the sun cast behind him he darkened into an animated silhouette, a singing shadow, causing me to forget his feathery details, enchanted instead by his sulky transformation and the simple melody of his chirps.
Laying my pencil aside, I left the room and found a soft place in the yard where I could be closer to this happy bird. Closing my eyes, I welcomed his song into my being; evicting the testy tenant with the tricky questions from my mind, along with his convincing rhetoric that I was not enough…I needed something more to complete me.
It was in that moment that I felt an inner peace lifting my soul above my thoughts…a restorative reward for pausing. Basking in this satisfying surge of life I vowed to monitor my thoughts more closely, and not be so quick to believe their dark tales. I could feel the rhythm, the oneness of all creation flowing through me, helping me to grasp the reality that indeed all things serve my path, (whether dark or light) including this current test, for which I shall no doubt receive an endless “A” for, acquiesce.
It may take the rest of my life for me to master this seemingly simple lesson. For the lesson isn’t without but within. The situations may change from year to year but the message remains the same: Be Present. Receive Love. Give Love.
Who’d a thought that a little bird could save me?
I’m sending this amazing love out to all of my dear friends today. May you find courage when faced with life’s many trials and may the truth of your lessons carry you to freedom throughout 2013 and beyond.