Maybe it’s not about climbing a mountain

I realized after driving home last night from seeing my friend who has cancer, that my whole way of being with her and with her diagnosis shifted. I didn’t do anything or figure it out or make a new plan. But as I drove home with the sun still high in the sky at 8:00 p.m., the mountains glistening like diamonds, the birch trees greening in the softest hues imaginable, I realized I was at peace with everything just as it was.

There was no logic to it. Just days before I was lost and stumbling and angry and trying hard to climb a mountain of emotions. Yet now that seems so far away and even amusing to me. It must be grace to feel such a turning to acceptance, but even more than acceptance–which seems to have a passive reluctance embedded in it– it’s like aligning with the truth.

It reminds me of the question the spiritual teacher, Jeff Carreira ( often asks: “If there’s no problem, what is here?” That seems to sum up where I am. If I don’t look at her illness as a problem, I am open to seeing so much of what else is here that is truly divine, like the beauty of Eagle River Valley as I drove home. Or the deep stillness we had together as we meditated and mused about how to transform hate into peace. Or sampling together a new recipe I found for spinach artichoke lasagna and loving it and saying it was good.

My friend said it in another way; “I’m so grateful I can eat. It tastes so good again. And drink without throwing up. And walking, yes walking standing up straight.” It’s so simple. Just be here now. She is showing me, living it. I’ve said it so many times. It has come and gone in my practice. Yet I feel this as a turning point in my soul life. I do not need to reject anything. Anything. If instead I turn to what I want to reject, things soften, open up and relax–amazingly enough. It’s not that they might soften, open up and relax. They actually do. I’ve learned this repeatedly on my spiritual path in the Diamond Approach. Yet, my friend’s pain and suffering and life-threatening disease seemed too much to turn toward in these past months. Grace reminds me now, even this is not too much for Love to transform.

I want to say this isn’t a way of avoiding the real pain of watching her deal with her cancer and all that it means for her and her family. I’m not rejecting that either. It will arise again. And I will allow myself to feel it and turn to it and see what else is there. I will be met. There is a deeper foundation that holds it all now. I don’t even want to name it, but it is here now.

Julian of Norwich was a nun and medieval mystic who wrote the oldest surviving book written in English by a woman, The Revelations of Divine Love. She received visions during a life-threatening illness and recorded what she was shown. One of these is “If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.” 

I will end here with the quote from that book that is most familiar, reassuring and challenging to me– beyond logic, yet I want to live its wisdom: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Eagle River Valley in springtime

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