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“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – Br. David Steindl Rast

Resting in the Mess

Warm greetings!

My beloved Carl is in the midst of a silent week-long meditation retreat with one of our teachers, Reggie Ray, in the still and spacious environment of Crestone, Colorado. Carl and I sometimes joke that we share a brain, and certainly share consciousness, and it’s been so wonderful to have a part of me receiving that deep peace that Carl’s steeping in.

And along with that? The mess. :)

The mess of things not being how I want.

The mess in the kitchen where Mesa and I baked cookies together and I didn’t complete cleanup fully before his bedtime, when I fell asleep too.

The mess of holding space for a child’s emotional upheavals, which have a little extra holiday-sugar fuel.

The mess of a childcare snafu and having to cancel clients.

The mess of shoveling snow 3 times already this morning after making a breakfast and lunch for my boy (amongst the cookie-baking mess) and getting him off to school, which means a late newsletter.

The list of holiday presents I haven’t ordered yet bubbles up in my consciousness now and again….

(And I’ll tell you, we do a majorly low-key holiday! I can hardly imagine the breathing patterns of people who go all out…)

My standards of perfection can torture me to no end if I take them seriously. And so I’ve been saying to myself this week, “Rest in the mess.”

“Rest in the mess.”

I have a little sign I put above my bathroom mirror years ago with a quote from another of our teachers, Tenzin Wangyal. It says,

“Attention to openness is the best medicine.

Mind is always open and clear.

Are you aware of it?”

I love this.

And it’s how I can rest in the mess.

I feel Carl sitting in that meditation room in the Blazing Mountain Retreat Center with an incredibly spacious view of the San Luis Valley…. It reminds me of my own spacious awareness, and I can rest, even in the mess.

I’d love to share with you a favorite poem, one I know by heart, (perhaps because my heart needs to hear these words on a frequent basis.) I know we’ve shared it here before, but for me it’s one I never tire of.

Mother of Us All

Mother-of-us-all prays to free us
from our image of perfection
to which so much suffering clings.

When in the shadowy mind
we imagine ourselves imperfectly,
praying to be freed from gravity
by enlightenment, she refines our prayers.

Putting her arms around us
she bids us rest our head on her shoulder
whispering, Don’t you know
with all your fear and anger
all you are fit for is love.

-Stephen Levine

In mid-December, and while having a single-parenting week, I can totally relate to the “image of perfection to which so much suffering clings.”

I imagine perfect days which flow easily, no tears on the way to school, I get everything done on my list, including meditation and exercise before Mesa wakes up…. (I haven’t had one of those days yet this week!)

Do you have those images of perfection too?

It’s such a great reminder that I can rest my head on her shoulder. For me this also means in any moment, I can feel the support of the ground – the great mother. Receive that support with my body.

And remember that with whatever fears or disappointments are circulating in my body-mind, all I am fit for is love.

Care to join me in resting in the mess, and sending love to the parts that are struggling, inner or outer?

As Rilke said so gorgeously,

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”

With love,


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