I love The Sun, a mind-bending little monthly published out of Durham, NC by Sy Safransky. I experience it as a treasured source of provocative insights into the nature of authentic spirituality. Browsing through an old issue a few days ago I ran across a letter from a reader that gave Easter's legacy of faith and resurrection an inspiringly human touch.
"After seven years of kidney dialysis and related problems, my mother's health took a turn for the worse. Her leg arteries had become occluded, and, unless she agreed to arterial surgery, she risked losing the use of her legs, possibly even the legs themselves. It was a risky procedure, but she reluctantly consented."
"The results were not good. Although the surgeons were able to restore circulation to her legs, the operation triggered a number of systemic failures throughout her body. Her condition rapidly deteriorated, and she became unable to eat or digest, to turn herself in bed, or even to speak beyond a few whispered syllables. She was incontinent, nearly comatose."
"Although her doctors told us that, with continued intravenous feeding and round-the-clock-care, she might survive for months, we all agreed that such an existence hardly constituted living. We decided to take her home from the hospital, keep her as comfortable as possible, and prepare for the end. The doctors warned us that, without the IV, she would die within a matter of days."
The verdict was in and it was lethal. Another Crucifixion sponsored by "ye of little faith" was in the making . . . could the cup be passed?
"After a painful ambulance ride home and the difficult transfer of her bloated, wasted body into the bed, we sat numbly, braced for the end. About two hours passed, and my mother asked for some soup. Not only that, she wanted to eat it in the kitchen. She sat at the table, fed herself, and asked for more. Within three days, she was walking to the kitchen without assistance. Within three weeks, she was cooking the soup herself. And within three months, she was going to the hairdresser and telling jokes."
The stone had rolled away, but the Resurrection was just beginning.
"Now, almost two years later, and despite a few lingering problems with her feet and legs, my mother is not only fully recovered . . . she has undergone a remarkable change in outlook. Once a vain and proper woman, she now looks for substance beneath the outer shell. She laughs often, swears occasionally, and demonstrates daily her love for us."
To suffer the death of the ego and be reborn is painful business. Viva la Liberation! The Truth has set her free!
"When I asked her what she thought had made her recovery possible, she said, 'When I got home and saw all of you, and all my beautiful things, and when I thought about my wonderful life here . . . I decided I didn't want to leave.'"
"I decided." That simple. What a powerful and inspiring example of the healing power of our minds when they resonate with the resurrecting force of love and gratitude and child-like assurance.
No fear, no doubt . . . simply "I decided." And so we thank the story for inspiring us and reminding us that faith is the spiritual gift that empowers all healing at the subtle levels. But is that the only spiritual insight this remarkable example of miraculous physical transformation contained? I think not.
Perhaps a far more remarkable example of the resurrecting power of Truth is revealed in the story-tellers revelation that "my mother is not only fully recovered . . . she has undergone a remarkable change in outlook. Once a vain and proper woman, she now looks for substance beneath the outer shell. She laughs often, swears occasionally, and demonstrates daily her love for us." Now that's a healing!
From obsessive civility to "don't worry, be happy" in one magical lifetime. Up close and personal confrontations with Dr.Death has that kind of accelerated transformational clout. The nitty-gritty of that sobering occasion for self-assessment never fails to clear up a lot of confusion about what's truly important in this earth-walk we are taking together.
Mother discovered that prim and proper aren't nearly as satisfying as real and relevant. As she let go of her rigid commitment to Victorian protocol and Emily Post etiquette, (her "vain and proper" image) she discovered the healing joy and lightheartedness to be found in an uncensored celebration of the gift of her life. She laughed often, embraced the expletive, and never missed a chance to say, "I love you." A living, breathing, laughing resurrected presence of Love.
The tomb is empty. Her resurrection is complete. A new being walks among us full of Truth and wisdom. The Word, once again, made flesh.
Sounds like a righteous recipe for health and happiness to me, as well as a not so subtle reminder that it might just be time for each of us to take a good hard look at the value system currently dictating the open or closed nature of our minds and hearts.
If we'll look carefully at the forces (beliefs, attitudes, points of view) that condition our mental sense of things, we'll begin to see how our cherished opinions, and the inner dialogue they inspire, color our thinking and create the nature of the emotional environment we live in from moment to moment.
The gift of Mother's experience for each of us is an awareness that it's not absolutely necessary to look physical death in the eye to initiate a transformative process of beneficial self-assessment. If your life seems to be a continuing encounter with people that you tend to label with thoughts like wrong, rude, crude, inappropriate, thoughtless, abusive, liar, etc., etc., and events that you characterize as unfair, bad, the pits, sucks, a drag, ad infinitum, ad nauseum . . . you can bet the farm that you are operating from a point of view deeply in need of crucifixion.
As long as we continue to pollute our feeling natures liking this and disliking that, judging, comparing, evaluating . . . as long as we stay stuck in a whirlwind of action and reaction . . . joy and lightheartedness are going to be in short supply.
So, let us choose, right now, before death knocks on our door, to engage ourselves in a process that will liberate us from the mischief of a mind playing with unenlightened values and perspectives. As we sharpen our awareness and learn to withhold agreement, emotional energy, and action from the unenlightened perspectives of the false witness mind, we create an increased sense of calm and equanimity that allows us to look more deeply into the Truth of our experience.
We gradually develop the capacity to ground ourselves in the reality of what is actually present in the moment rather than being lost in the false witness of our unenlightened interpretations projected onto pure Isness. The "son of a bitch who ripped me off and ruined my life" is replaced by "a child of God here with me in the school of life looking for some answers." The "foul-mouthed barbarian shouting and screaming at me", in the clear light of Truth, becomes "a child of God, lost in the weeds, crying out for love."
Gradually we die to the proclamations of false witness to be reborn as emissaries of Light. This steady and precise awareness brings a profound sense of stability because it resists nothing. Each moment of our lives will be a study in equanimity because our practice is empowering us to be open to the full range of changing experience free of any attachment or aversion. The spiritual art and discipline of a meditative practice is one sure way of beginning to establish some dominion over the tyranny of a thoroughly conditioned mind insisting that everything life brings us be exactly this or exactly that.
Remember, Beautiful Ones, your duty is to be . . . not to be this or that, just be your cosmic, resurrected selves . . . and while you're at it, take a deep breath and know that you are well loved in this here heart.
May the Spirit of Resurrection live in your heart and comfort you this blessed Easter.