HOW are you? WHO are you?
“Below me on a flat mossy stone in the brook sits a small green frog. What IS a frog? I was fascinated by a scientific article which showed pictures of a frog as seen by a human eye, by a bird’s eye, by a snake’s eye. Each saw a very different creature. Which frog was more real? …The Greeks come to my help again: they have a word for the realness of things, the essence of a frog, of the stone bridge I am sitting on, of my (sister); it is ‘ousia’.” from Summer of the Great Grandmother by Madeleine L’engle
This phrase from the book I am reading is so in line with my thoughts today. What got me thinking in this direction are the recent questions from some of my friends who know I am on my way out of state to visit my SWEET sister. “How is she doing? Is she better? Is she worse? This must be hard on all of you,” etc… and all other well meaning and sincere requests for her well being, and expressions of their deep caring for me. (Thank you again, sweet sister for once again prompting me to ponder what I will think and what I will say.)
Through many eyes it would appear that she has been plunged into quite a serious physical challenge for the past couple of years. It has been tough, REAL tough. Without dragging through the details, there have been many moments of hard work …just to get through the day, to keep one’s thought positive, to “BE” on this earth while one’s physical body would try to say destruction. With just “eyes” it might look like progress or even life, is often fleeting or like a roller coaster…BUT I KNOW and see better EVERY time I have the privilege of being in her presence that there is a different view! Yet every time I am asked, I mentally hem and haw not knowing how to answer without sounding insensitive to their motives for the question, or not addressing what they are asking for, which is usually a physical prognosis. It has been hard to talk about in a practical way, in those moments in which I am asked. Because, for me, “how she is doing” is SO much more than analyzing her physicality, her mobility. I don’t want to put my sister’s progress in that box.
At long last, I am finished with my usual umbrella comments like, “well, it is a tough road, but she is doing her best…or things are moving along, and she is so strong and courageous, or she has had some great days and inspiration, …or other half positive, half something-else answers. My friends’ questions are also reminders to me that I need to establish how I am going to view my sister in my thought…and to also deal with the fears that would try to lodge themselves in me regarding her well-being.
What I REALLY think and feel inside when someone asks me how she is doing is this: She is more HER than I have ever seen! She looks forward bravely. She is more grateful than ever, and FULL of life! She prays each day to discover more of who she is and see the true Source of energy and comfort — where they come from and how they relate to her, …in the same way that the sun’s rays reflect all the power and quality of the Sun. She exemplifies more than courage…she is persistent, consistent, and resistant to images and thoughts that would drag her down. She knows how to walk “through” and not wallow in what is unpleasant and painful. She knows how and when to ask for help! She embodies amazing strength to focus, one step at a time, on each thought that comes her way.
I know that she asks herself great questions such as “Where will this thought lead me? How can I express love and creativity today?” She is often overwhelmed by the over-the-top bushels of kindness expressed to her. She KNOWS what love means! She will not be discouraged! She knows that this isn’t a fight, but instead a yielding to LET her essence come forth… let the Sustaining Infinite sustain, preserve and maintain her.” THIS is my sister! She is NOT defined by her physical body. She has shown that to herself and ALL of us. She IS a deep-seeded knowing, an understanding, and a desire to BE conscious of life… expressed gracefully and vibrantly EVERY day.
Of course I long each day for her to move about with greater physical ease, to be able to rest in comfort, to glide through fields bareback on her horses, …BUT, then I realize I am mucking in a one-sided view of flexibility and progress.
I really see the LIGHT in her …and know that she feels it, too. She has indescribable, tender moments of feeling immersed in Love, an outpouring of it…that banishes ALL past mistakes or false estimates of oneself . She SHINES …with generosity, thoughtfulness, intuition and TRUE beauty. She is lovely, strong like a rock, gorgeous through and through, SO wise and trusting. She is Love itself!
She is Spring in FULL bloom… having all the capacity for regeneration and color as the crocuses that, despite what seems to be physically possible, burrowed through the frozen soil and snow weeks ago in our neighborhood — though no one saw them preparing and growing, doing what they do, far below the surface. THAT’s how she is doing! She is my new symbol of Springtime …with all the vibrancy, expectancy and resilience of the lilies and the strong oak. I will continue to see WHO she is, remind myself of that… and not be afraid to share the “view.”
How do we think of ourselves and each other EVERY day…during the times of struggles but also in our normal interactions and thoughts of each other? Are we staying with ousia, the essence? This is my question to myself as I work with students as “coach” and instructor, as I discern how to view and interact with my own husband, daughters, grandchildren, family, friends and those whom I haven’t met in this world. We are NOT our bodies, our limitations, our struggles…we are SO much more!Written by Tien Stone Langlois, Director of Scholars Together — and Jill’s sister
To share your thoughts about and gratitude for Jill, who passed away on April 20th, please visit the following website that is in her honor: http://www.ilasting.com/jillstonejoslen/memorial.php