This post is dedicated in celebration to my friend K. who is now home from the hospital and is growing stronger and more healthy every day!
How many times have you thought: Why do bad things happen to good people?
I mean, when we see bad things happening to not-so-nice people, it is just easier to make up excuses like she had it coming or that will teach him (not that I suggest this kind of rationalizing). But what about when a kind and generous person experiences something shocking and challenging?
One afternoon a gorgeous and generous woman is eating a healthy snack, the next day she is in the ICU, fighting for her life, with a rare form of E.coli that is attacking her kidneys and blood. What possible sense can be made of this?
We want to pretend that these kinds of things could never happen to us or our families. Who wants to lie awake at night, imagining that the veggie dip you gave your kids for dinner could be poisoned or that they might get a drug resistant staph infection from running in the front yard barefoot?
We are vulnerable and the world is full of danger. This much is true. But, in order to really live, we have to get up, put on our favorite jacket and go out into it anyway. If we hide in the basement or bundle our kids in bacteria-resistant saran wrap, we might be safer (unless the basement floods or the saran wrap is toxic) but we might not experience much joy either.
This is the nature of our human reality: joy and pain are intertwined in a delicate balance that can leave you stunned and grateful all in one breath. From the moments of pure bliss to the moments of sheer terror, in order to experience the fullness of being alive, you have to be willing to turn your best face to whatever shows up. You might even develop a deeper awareness of your strengths and a trust in the universe that goes beyond what you could have experienced otherwise.
Rumi says it best:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome them and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as guide from beyond.