Every year around this time, my mind seems to get overheated and shuts down like a car engine. It ceases to function properly and I end up taking some time off to rest and regroup. That's what I've been doing or trying to do since Tuesday.
Last Tuesday, a dear friend from church committed suicide. I've been shaking ever since, overcome with a new kind of anxiety, the kind that says "There but for the grace of God, go I…."
My friend had been battling depression for months and he promised to call me if he ever felt like he couldn't handle it anymore. He didn't call. One night last week, he climbed into his car, sped down a straight country road and veered off into a stone wall. He wasn't wearing a seat belt. There were no skid marks.
Suicide. It's still too close to write about. He was in so much psychic pain, this must have seemed like the only way out. And this morning I'll be going to church, back up the dreaded steps, to share my grief with the other parishioners.
How does one recover the mind after a shock like this? I couldn't even concentrate to do my breathing. Contemplation seemed like a nightmare because I could only see his face. I had overdosed on God the Father at the monastery so prayer was out, too.
But yesterday, my husband and I planted some new hydrangeas - two Limelight bushes and one PeeGee tree. That may sound trivial but it focused my mind and helped (literally) to ground me.
We started with a hole then we added 6 inches of peat moss. My job was to add water and turn it into a rich roiling reddish-brown soup. I reached my bare arms into the dirt and peat and kneaded the soil, squeezing water through each dry part until it was all soaked.
The smell of the earth and its satisfying texture reminded me of playing with clay as a child. I molded and splashed until I emerged a filthy mess. I would have gladly jumped in to cover myself with the mixture but my husband constrained me.
So today when I awoke, after a night of dreams about my lost friend, I attempted my morning exercises - meditating and journaling - both of which had been virtually lost to me this past week. I closed my eyes and followed my breath, focusing only on the up and down of my stomach. That worked for a few moments before my mind skipped off.
Someone told me an upset mind can be like an agitated two-year-old child. So how to deal with it? Don't scream, don't slap, don't judge. Just gently guide it back into the task at hand. And so I imagined my mind as a two year old and there was a Mother, a perfect non-judgmental Mother who gently led me to a quiet within myself. Earth Mother!
Father Sky stepped aside and let the Great Mother appear. And so I am once again grounded. At least for the moment. It's almost time for church and I feel the anxiety rising. But I'm not going to avoid it. That would only make it worse. Face the sadness. Face the pain. And with the help of the Earth, on which I can't help but be grounded, I will make it. I only wish….