Learning to Flow with Reality

Babysitting grandchildren before they're able to speak is a wonderfully direct, heart-to-heart loving-kindness meditation - words don't get in the way. One feels the unspoken wisdom of these baby Buddhas and the promise of their mysterious potential beginning to bloom.

With stunning rapidity, we find ourselves and our loved ones on the other end of the age spectrum - receiving "the grace of diminishment". The many skills & capacities we spent a lifetime nurturing & honing, are now progressively dismantling. We hope an open-hearted wisdom grows, even as our ease with words, and the story of 'me' disintegrates.

“We had climbed the hill up to Hugo’s house, where we found him outside the kitchen door, piling wood for the stove.

‘Hello. Sorry – it looks like we’re interrupting you,’ I said, one of those automatic pleasantries upon meeting someone for the first time.

He looked up, smiled, and answered quietly:

‘There are no interruptions.’

Hugo’s words struck me. As someone who can find interruptions a test of patience, I often reflected on that statement. In caretaking someone with dementia, it’s a valuable mantra. By this time in Hob’s illness, he needed my assistance with an increasing number of things – retrieve a word, turn something on, find some object – an endless array of little demands. At times, in response to all his needs, I felt that my sense of self was slowly fragmenting. The challenge was clear enough: how to live each day as a seamless web of events, one flowing into the other with ease and flexibility. It was most important now because each day was shot through with the unexpected.”

Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle. “Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows. A Couple’s Journey through Alzheimer’s.” Penguin, NY, 2008.

Contemplation in Umbria

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