When I reflect on what it is that I know for sure, one thing is that all the answers and all the guidance I need are always there waiting for me in the stillness and quiet of my mind. That this, too – whatever it is – shall pass and new, more helpful thoughts will appear. An insight will drop in. A thought of gratitude will wash over me. I slip into a beautiful, quiet feeling of knowing I am ok. Everything will be ok. Even if I have no clue as to how or when.
One of my early and big ah-ha moments about this was work related. I was rushing to a really important meeting across town – and across 3 sets of railroad tracks! – where I would be talking to the executive leadership of our hospital system to persuade them to take over the financial responsibility for our free primary care clinic for uninsured immigrant families. I hoped they would consider making the clinic part of the organization’s Community Benefit Program when the grant funding for it ran out.
I had a lot on this conversation! I was already running a little late because I thought I needed just a couple more data points to help make my case. And my poor re-call for data details was simultaneously stirring up my insecurities. As if talking to these “important people” wasn’t enough to do that by itself! My thoughts were bouncing all over the place and my feelings were amplifying them.
And yes …. I caught a train. A really really long one.
But after my first moment of “NO!!!!!!!” (and a few expletives) I heard from someplace deep inside me “It’s ok, you need this moment of stillness.” Wisdom showed up.
It was as if I awakened into a calm, settled feeling and I knew without thinking about it that it was something I could trust. From that space and that beautiful feeling I knew I was doing the right thing and for the right reasons, that it was okay that I didn’t know how it would turn out, and that somehow it would all be ok. During the rest of my drive across town I began being filled with gratitude for everything about La Clinica de la Esperanza, The Clinic of Hope. Our staff, our patients and their families, the opportunities it provided for deep connection and being of service. And on and on.
And then, amazingly, the meeting that had been causing me such anxiety turned out to be one of the best meetings I had ever been a part of. The quality of the feeling in the room was light and sweet in spite of the corporate environment. We had an incredibly rich dialog about both values and practicalities, and reached a conclusion that put us on the road to sustainability for this important service to our community. I realized later that I wasn’t thinking the same way I normally would in a similar situation. In fact, it seemed like my words were coming from somewhere else, just flowing from and within the feeling.
Since then I’ve had many big and little, funny and serious experiences of Wisdom spontaneously showing up.
From ….walking with great determination and purpose from one part of the house to another to get a hair band for my hair, only to get there and have no idea what it was that I was after. And then, just as I’m launching into an internal dialog and anxious feelings about getting old, having that small voice inside say – in a New York Italian voice from the movie Mickey Blue Eyes no less – “Hey, fuhgeddaboudit! It’ll come to you”. And sure enough, about the time I laugh and turn around to leave the room I remember.
To …. being deeply concerned about someone in my family or about having handled something poorly, or feeling really angry and urgent about giving someone a piece of my mind, or feeling totally crushed and devastated and insecure by something or someone. And out of the raging fires of these feelings I hear some version of “it’s ok, you are ok”. And I know that I don’t need to do anything. I know that these feelings will pass. And in the quiet stillness of my mind I know I will “see” something, and that understanding and answers will come to me. Gratitude will appear. Humor will emerge. A deep feeling of love will arrive. Wisdom shows up.
As Sydney Banks’ Andy said in The Englightened Gardener:
Let your mind be still,
For the wisdom you seek is like that
butterfly over yonder.
If you try to catch it with
it will simply fly away.
On the other hand, if you can still
someday, when you least expect it,
it will land in the palm
of your hand.
This I know for sure.