The other morning I woke up to one of those crazy time-crunch scenarios. You know—where it feels basically impossible to do everything we’re supposed to do inside the tiny window of time we’re given to do it?
I had the chimney sweep people scheduled to arrive at 8 AM, needed to get the kids fed and Ezra off to school by 8:15, and then a Zoom call with a brand new client at 8:30.
Immediately following my Zoom call, I was meant to pack up the car and drive six hours south to the Bay Area for an important weekend event.
Add in a large dose of pre-menstrual hormones, and the fact of this new client being a world-famous thought-leader, and perhaps you can imagine the delicate state of my nerves.
Knowing the schedule was a set-up for stress, I began the morning with silence at my altar, burned some holy cedar, offered up a simple prayer, and got in the shower. One moment at a time, Jesua. Just one moment at a time.
I sweetly woke up my boy Ezra, put on the kettle for tea, and headed to the laundry room for some clean clothes.
That’s when I noticed the huge wet pile of dog diarrhea all over the laundry room floor. Oh. God. No.
I felt my heart begin to pound, and quickly ran to get some Nature’s Miracle and rags from under the kitchen sink to clean it up.
Cortisol levels rising, starting to lose my composure, I began scanning all the floors of our home. Much to my horror, I realized that there was indeed diarrhea EVERYWHERE.
Big, gloppy, drippy piles sat gleaming all over the living room rug, and all up and down the hallways. Our dog Freya had apparently gotten super sick in the middle of the night, and she’d had diarrhea in pretty much every room of the house.
I yelled out frantically for the kids to come help, and they scurried out of their rooms, still rubbing their eyes awake, to see what the problem was. For a couple moments they just stood there, taking in this situation with wide-eyed dismay on their faces.
I started spiraling into a rant of triggered reactivity. I begged them to help. Ezra ran to get some rags wet with hot water. Arayla put Freya into her crate and started looked around the house for more piles. A few moments later she yelled out in a panic from my office that not only was there a pile soaking into my beautiful office rug, but that she had stepped in it! She started wailing.
Did I take some deep breaths at that point, find the grace of pure presence, summon my maturity, have a little chuckle, and remember to perceive this disgusting mess and time-crunch with a dose of essential perspective?
Oh, I wish. But no, no I did not. 🙁
Instead, I completely lost it. I descended into total overwhelm and started to yell and weep, while cleaning off Arayla’s poop-covered foot, and then wildly scrubbing the diarrhea out of the rugs.
Suddenly I noticed the clock. 8:10. The chimney sweep people still weren’t here. Ezra wasn’t dressed yet for school and he hadn’t eaten. My important call was in 20 minutes.
In that moment I realized that I had exactly 20 minutes to transform from my worst, most reactive, frantically weeping, diarrhea-scrubbing self, into my most wisely centered, divinely reflective and gracefully useful self.
It was 8:17 when Ezra and I jumped into the car to drive to school, and while he ate toast off his lap, I tried to settle my weepy breath. I could feel my boy working to find his composure as well, shaking off our morning drama as he prepared to enter his school day.
My face was still wet and swollen with tears, and I could feel shame and remorse creeping in, over how much messier I had made our already messy morning with my terrible reactivity. I had really lost it.
Thoroughly humbled, I said to my son, “Wow, my love. I am so sorry. I really lost it this morning. I’m so sorry I handled that so badly.”
Ezra took a deep breath, and turned to me with softness in his eyes. He said simply, “It’s Ok Mama. Everybody loses it sometimes. You don’t have to be perfect.”
Astonished and immediately soothed by his words, I was silent. I could feel the invitation to find what I had lost: to return to love.
Then I replied, “Thank you so much for your compassion and your forgiveness, Ezra. It really means so much to me.”
He said simply, “Of course, Mom.” We had arrived at the drop off spot, and he tumbled out of the car, grabbing his backpack and lunchbox, shouting out, “I love you!” as he went.
It was 8:22 now, and I was driving back home: breathing, emptying, gathering myself back together again, praying.
I let my son’s transmission of compassion penetrate my nervous system and heart. I let my own love find its way into the darkest crevice of this moment. At 8:27 I pulled into my driveway.
My daughter was waiting and opened the door for me as I walked in. Arayla looked at me sweetly with immense understanding, and I gushed, “I’m so sorry for losing it so intensely, Love!”
Immediately she offered in return, “Oh Mama, I know. I’m so sorry for how hard that was!” Then she said, “I know you have a session right now. Is there anything I can do to support you?”
Oh my goodness. More incredible kindness now from this child. I almost started crying again just to feel her empathy and support. I kissed her cheek and said, “Oh wow, yes. Thank you so much. Could you please make me my tea?”
I ran to the bathroom, splashed cold water on my face, put on some moisturizer and eye-liner. I made deep eye-contact with myself in the mirror. I hurried to my desk. 8:29. I took a few more breaths, and prayed to get out of the way for Love’s work.
I opened up my computer, and clicked into my Zoom account. 8:30 AM.
My client arrived to the call, just as Arayla quietly placed a mug of hot tea beside me. I winked at her with immense gratitude.
With my heart tenderly open and freshly available, I said to my client, “Good morning,” and for the next hour proceeded to skillfully hold space for his deepening seeing, self-compassion and revelation. It was a beautiful, powerful session.
Hours later, as I drove along Hwy 5 on my way down to the Bay, the time-crunch diarrhea disaster now a shrug of the past, I contemplated our mundane morning of mayhem and mercy.
I wondered towards the deeper medicine; what was it for? What was the wisdom wanting to be gleaned from this story?
For one thing, the immediacy of compassion from the children was clearly a potent mirror, right? How beautiful they were. How resilient. How quick to offer forgiveness and support.
Then I humored myself for a moment, giggling out loud, as I imagined mischievous angels out in the wings, purposefully throwing me off course, just to see how quickly I could recalibrate.
I imagined one angel turning to the other, with a naughty smile, saying playfully, “What do you think she’ll do if we throw some dog diarrhea into the mix?” Mean, mean angels. 😉
In these challenging times, it does seem essential that we hone our skills of rapid resilience and repair. We lose it, and then we have to find it again, super quick.
Ideally we don’t always get so triggered and reactive that we make the mess even messier, like I did that morning. In our better moments we can just clean up that shit, wash our hands and get on with it.
But since we are human after all, and our lives can be stressful, and hormones are a factor, it seems that part of our spiritual warrior training is to learn how to go from the worst to the best with increasing efficiency and grace.
Lost and then found again, just like that. Bam.
How quickly can we see our mistake, apologize, take responsibility, find self-forgiveness, and then immediately return to embodying something more skillful and useful? It’s a good, steep challenge of a lifetime.
And all of it, always, can be used for deeper humbling. Thank you for the continuous humbling, Life. It really works.
Please forgive me. I forgive myself. I love myself. I love you.
In these trying times of fires and hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes ravaging all corners of the globe; with political insanity raging and uncertainty looming around every bend; these heartbreaking times that find the whales sick and the bees leaving; that find humans trafficking humans and children shooting other children, I’m praying towards where the deepest refuge can be found.
I’m praying towards how I might BE the refuge.
I take refuge in this instant, my friend. This holy only instant of my life, our life, and our world. This sacred moment in which we all exist together, now.
I take refuge in this breath; in this moment of our breathing, of our receiving, of our grieving, our praying and our loving.
I take refuge in a Truth that celebrates the oneness of humanity, cures the disease of separation, and resolves all false division.
I take refuge in this LOVE that is large enough to include the ugliest, scariest, most shameful dramas of our world, and the ways these mirror the very wars happening within ourselves.
I take refuge in wild Mercy, in Love’s grandest gesture of radical inclusivity.
I take refuge in formless, eternal permanence; this vast, open treasure that doesn’t come and go.
I take refuge in my own simple, humble human heart—an innocence that lies deeper than identity and role; a trust in life that doesn’t require our world to be trustworthy; a forgiveness that includes the unforgiveable; a compassion for the wound at the heart of every sin.
I take refuge in YOU, in your willingness, in your raw vulnerability, in your brave honesty, and in your breathtaking commitment to love and truth that brought you right here, to this moment of reading these words.
I take refuge in the ways you show up, every day, even when it’s really hard, and discover anew how to tend to yourself, how to tend to the embers of your own heart, and then to the people, plants, creatures and sacred assignments of your life.
I take refuge in the footsteps of our elders, our great Masters, our wisdom-keepers, way-showers and truth-tellers.
I take refuge in the warm, soft hands of my son, and the shimmering eyes of my daughter.
I take refuge in that which inspires real kindness amongst strangers, and fresh devotion between longtime friends and lovers. I take refuge in the way these times inspire community, invoke activism and fuel prayer.
I take refuge in the wisdom of restraint, and the joy of surrender.
I take refuge in this Grace that reveals an astonishing purity of silence, of wellness, of wholeness, that none of this mayhem ever touches.
My friend, let’s BE this grace, this wild mercy, this humble human, this courageous heart, this curative kindness, this restful wellness we have yearned for.
Let’s not wait another moment to lean in to what’s holding us all.
Let’s BE the refuge our whole world can rest in. Shall we?
photo by the beloved and exquisitely gifted Lone Mørch.