Yesterday I was asked to help out a couple. The man was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 6 years ago. But a year ago became more difficult for his wife because he stopped recognizing her. She had a bit of an accident in the morning and needed help caring for him.
When I met him he was watching TV not really knowing what he was watching except for what was on the screen and what he heard in the moment and for 1 minute or so. He did not foresee a murder was about to take place, but he was able to see that he was mistaken and it happened after all. I experienced him as a jolly easy going man. I helped him to the bathroom and then helped him to bed. He kept looking for her but she had terrible pain and needed to rest sitting up. She wasn’t used to letting anyone else care for her husband. At one point he told me he was looking for his wife as he tried to come out his bedroom one more time. He clearly meant the woman who cares for him every day. He looks for her guidance, for her presence eagerly. And when she tells him what to do, he says “Okay!” almost jokingly, like a man who has gotten used for his wife to be bossy. She was surprised he knew who she was. She also took his teasing her as a personal resistance to her… not as a teasing husband.
Her experience of him was that he was unhappy. She told me she gave up on her own happiness: “It is a choice you have to make!” I saw that she was unhappy but I did not see that he was. So I asked her what she meant. What she had experienced of him before the disease was a man who took charge where ever he was, at work or at home, constantly improving things or leading others to. He no longer did that. He was just being, but she saw it as being unhappy.
Because of her sense of loss she was bitter and angry with him, sighing when he did not remember what she had just told him. I could see her side. But I could also see she had not adjusted to his new life and his new experience. She was stuck in the past.
From where I stood, without knowing his past, he was just a jolly easy going man, joking around with his wife, needing her to keep telling him what to do… he’d done enough of telling others what to do for a lifetime.
Did a labyrinth walk this morning with my friend Jennifer. It was covered with snow so we could barely see the outline of the path. Jennifer had done it before so she had a little idea before starting. We started with a prayer of intention. And then we trusted. At times we had to clear the snow with our boots to see where the outline of the path was, and we made it.
Insight #1: The path ahead may not be clear, but it is not as difficult as it may appear. (At least that’s what the message is for me right now!)
Insight #2: As I walked I felt my love for a dog I once had who I had to let go when I moved to the city. I had had some tantrums with him because he loved his freedom and escaped and that strained my relationships with some neighbors who were afraid for their dogs. But now I felt the love I had for him as clear as light I felt how I missed him as a being. Not nostalgia, not sadness, just a caring. So I knew I always love even if I don’t feel it. Love is like the sun that may be covered in clouds from the earth’s perspective, but is always there… So I love but may not be aware of it because of clutter. When I clear the clutter, I can feel the love, toward people or pets (even from the past), and it is not that I love them now, it is that I remember the love I kept hidden from myself.
Corollary and food for thoughts: We always already love our enemies… the problem is not to try and love them… the problem is that we have some clutter to clear up and that has nothing to do with our enemy, only with our self!
Every moment we have a choice to feel bad or feel good. Happiness is just taking advantage of that choice.
When I feel bad and don’t know how to feel good, I ask myself what is so important that I can’t let go of feeling bad.
Depression is rampant in the USA. It is one of those things one can feel powerless about, and is a good state to practice this on. What is so important that I’d rather feel depressed? Well it requires some inner work no doubts, I know from experience helping people with long term depression. But let me reassure you, depression is not a personality disorder, nor is it caused by chemical imbalance as our culture seems eager to believe. Depression causes that chemical imbalance. Depression is simply the result of giving up or not remembering who we really are and if we started this at 3 years old… we have it as a running tape within us… it may not be easy to remember why we started it… but it is important to search so we can reclaim our sense of self and be free to see that we have a choice so we can embrace it.
Saying God doesn’t exist is like saying unconditional love does not exist. There is no difference. God is like a combination of unconditional love and Universal Consciousness at the same time, but once you experience one of the two, the other one is right there with it; they are inseparable.
I once did not believe in unconditional love. Then one day I asked life: “If there is such a thing, I want to experience it!” Two months later I experienced it. I could not stay in that space, but the time it lasted felt so awesome I wanted to stay in it forever. When I asked how to get back there, the answer was: “Stop worrying!”
I have come a long way since then but I am nowhere close to being in the space of unconditional love all the time. I have experienced that awesome feeling a few more times after that. So one thing I know for certain, it exists, and it is worth giving up every addiction, every belief, or every desire, that is in conflict with its quest.
If you are atheist or agnostic it is because you don’t believe in the God that has been presented to you. I don’t blame you. It is healthy to be skeptical. I have heard of people asking God to show him(her)self to them… without experiencing anything different in their life. And thus felt they got some kind of confirmation that God does not exist. The problem is that you cannot experience unconditional love with your intellect, so you have to be willing to have an experience that is not intellectual…
I am not saying anyone has to believe in God. But why hesitate at the possibility of unconditional love? Why give up on it before trying?
I am pointing this out because it matters. We live in a world in which people in power operate as though they have given up on love. And it is a difficult world to live in for that reason. A lot of people end up with mental illnesses or homeless because love is not a priority.
Oh! It is not an easy quest. Giving up is easier.