“Sometimes it’s not the times you decide to fight, but the times you decide to surrender—those are the decisions that can make all the difference. Those are the ones that can shape your story in history.”
― Courtney Praski, The Seven
How do you think of the notion of surrender? Is it a laying down of weapons? Of letting oneself be overtaken by an enemy force? A sign of weakness? I don’t think so. I have come to define surrender as the opposite of defeat. Surrender is a badge of courage. Only the brave are able to say to the universe, “I am yours. Do with me what you will.” The Serenity prayer reminds us to ask for… “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can…” I would say that acceptance is also an act of courage. Acceptance is the really the essence of surrender, and in time, after the struggle has passed, after everything has fallen around us and the dust has settled, we realize that we are still standing. We take a look around, and we discover gifts among what we had thought were the ruins of our giving up or our giving in or our giving a fuck. Treasures show up in the darnedest of places.
Life throws so many things our way, so many pills to swallow. Some go down more easily than others. Some contain bitter truths within them. There are times when we have no choice but to swallow. We can gag and choke and make ourselves even more miserable in the process, or we can take a nice deep breath, a big gulp of water, relax, and just let it happen. What has been has been; will be will be. Resistance is futile, and the only real choice we have, the only way to get past the suffering and to move into new territory, is to Surrender, fully and completely.
Most days, I do a walking meditation. Walking remains the safest form of physical activity for me at this point in my recovery. Gentle, yet steady exercise helps get my blood and oxygen flowing and helps my body heal. It eases the mind too. For about 8 weeks now, I have been repeating this mantra as I walk along the Seine and through the park near my home: “I open my heart, I accept what has been and what is, I forgive, I allow myself to heal.” Open the heart, accept, forgive, heal. Taking a deep breath and a slight pause between each phrase allows the intention to sink in, to take root, to expand, to grow. I have found these four tenets to be the keys to feeling more peaceful, centered, aware of the soft power within my spirit.
The past 15 weeks have been an intense lesson in Surrender. I faced my biggest fears, looking them squarely in the eye, even the I felt so vulnerable and tiny, doing what I had to do in order to move forward with my life and reclaim my body. Every new trauma we face brings up the older ones we have known. We recall the feelings of powerlessness; the loss of control; our inability to protect ourselves, our bodies, or those whom we love. The foundations of our world crumble. Our task at these times is to not allow ourselves to be buried in the rubble. My surgery was the culmination of a journey toward surrender which had begun long ago. I can feel myself emerging slowly from the shadows of that trauma, and I am reminded of my own strength. Sometimes things happen in order to remind us of who we are and of what our purpose on this planet is.
I remember that after the death of my son that I arrived at a place where I felt almost fearless. It was after the intense grief had passed, and I had accepted what had come to pass. I became aware that once we have lived through the worst thing that could happen, we know we can get through anything. We no longer fear the lesser things. We feel strong and rooted in our power. Our perspective becomes greater; our wisdom deepens. That sense of my strength stayed with me for a few years, and then I slowly, sadly, lost it somehow. Though I am still actively healing from my surgery, a process which will probably take a year or so, I am beginning to think that maybe all of this happened in order to bring me back to that place of feeling unencumbered by fear, of feeling deeply rooted in and connected to my power, so that I might reconnect with my spiritual self, with my very essence.
In coming back to this place of power, I come back to my Self. I am exactly where I want to be, where I feel most at home… in the middle of a forest clearing on a summer day. I am connected to the earth, a child of light and air, holding the humble, surprising gift that comes with surrender. And in this case, it just so happens to be a bouquet of Queen Anne’s Lace. Did you know that in the language of flowers, Queen Anne’s Lace means sanctuary? There really is no greater gift than that!
Until next time…