I got the flu last week. The 24 hour kind, where I woke up and thought I was fine, until I was sweating one moment and freezing and next, and then I had the sudden urge to get to the bathroom as fast as I could.
I texted all my clients and told them that I needed to cancel. I didn’t go to my last Qigong group. I read an entire book, and listened to several podcasts. I would throw up occasionally, then take a nap.
The details aren’t that interesting (ha!), and yet a few things hit me last Wednesday.
First, I know how to rest. It’s like my body just let myself throw up. It let me know when I was ready to try a cracker, to try a pretzel and see how my body did. My body guided me to equilibrium and I trusted it the entire time. Having the flu didn’t feel like an inconvenience, but just a time to slow down and have my body instruct me in how to get well. Quite honestly, over the past several years, I had to learn how to rest. I had traveled way too far over false ground. The fact that resting came naturally, and I didn’t fight it, just means that I’m much closer to living in line with who I am.
On top of that, I was on my period! Through vomiting and bleeding, I was getting a double message of letting myself let go of what I no longer needed. Since last summer, I’ve transitioned in so many ways. My health moved me into these decisions quickly–and yet now I can see that my health was nudging me in different directions that I’ve needed to go.
New job. New home. New church. New self-care routines.
I understood none of this while it was happening–we normally don’t!
More questions emerged that I’ve just let be questions:
- Why do I live in Westfield?
- What kind of church am I looking for? Why? Or am I looking for a church at all?
- How can my self-care sustain these longer work hours?
- How can I make Orton-Gilllingham more accessible to more people, while still caring for myself?
- Who am I accountable to in this time? And how to do I know?
- Who am I and how do I know?
Deep questions usually surface in the new. And they have. And I’ve been pushed to lean into these questions. I needed to let go of two jobs, that I liked at one point but were no longer working. I needed to let go of a home that was close and convenient to everything, but was damaging my health. I needed to let go of a church, where I had found community, and yet because of several factors I needed to say goodbye.
There are always new opportunities behind the grief. Once my eyes were fully opened, no longer filled with exhaustion and tears–I saw my life for what it was. Although I built a business feeling at about 15% myself–I am at capacity now, and I’m making plans for how I want to expand my services when there is a wait list.
Living in Westfield has been a place of rest, with a lot more country driving! I had this strong sense when I was preparing to move that although busier in several years, that this was a season of rest. It’s quieter. I can see the stars. I can easily walk down the street. And my health has most definitely improved living here.
I’ve moved to more gentle self-care routines. I engage in breathwork, in Qigong, in daily creativity through writing. I can do these at home or with a group. In fact, I see that I need both. I’ve let everything that felt vigorous fall away. This wasn’t the plan, but it just happened. No more vinyasa yoga. No more regular trips to the yoga studio.
As far as church goes, coming into the Episcopal church has felt like a homecoming to me. I started going to an Anglican church in Memphis 4 years ago during the Epiphany season. The liturgy truly was healing to my sick body. I didn’t realize how much I longed for that liturgy again, until I stepped through St. Christopher’s doors. I didn’t realize how much I needed to come out as an asexual, until I looked on their website and read “You are welcome here. You are welcome if you are rich or poor, gay or straight, single or married, Democrat, Republican or something else.”
I wept when I was researching Episcopal churches in the area and I saw that they had a Lay Eucharistic Minister ministry where a volunteer would bring the Eucharist to your home if you were homebound. I thought of how many Sundays I didn’t go to church because of how sick I felt, or knowing that I would react to mold. How over time that made me feel disconnected and isolated. It was comforting to know that if I needed to stay home, I could just give the church a call and someone would come and visit me.
I let tears fall from my eyes when there were prayers for the sick imbedded into the liturgy. I felt seen and represented. I felt encouraged that there was an anti-racism work group, that the assistant rector was a woman and the bishop of the Diocese is a strong black woman.
Saying goodbye to those things last summer opened up space for my practices to align more with who I am, to give me excitement and hope for where I might be headed.
Last month, in my spiritual direction session, my director reflected back to me, that I speaking about themes that all began with c: community, courage, collaboration, construction, creativity, claiming, curiosity, contentment. She encouraged me to see this time not necessarily as de-construction, but actually construction. “You are constructing a beautiful life,” she said.
We also talked about how St. Christophers begins with a c. My director said, “It would be interesting to look at what patron saint Christopher is.” A few days later I did some research and found that St. Christopher is the patron saint of children and travel.
That seemed too fitting. The last several years have been an adventure, with so much literal travel, but also a deep traveling inward. I’ve been on a crazy adventure, oftentimes one that doesn’t make sense. But then there are those moments, where time feels like it just stands still, and for a moment you know in your body that you are right where you are supposed to be.
I suppose you could say, that instead of fighting the flu, and being frustrated that I had to miss work, I simply took it as an opportunity to say, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”