When I was planning this Sabbatical, I was tapped-phsycially, mentally, and spiritually. I did not have one ounce of energy to lift another piece of furniture and I was beyond emotionally depleted. The people in my life did not deserve much of the irritation and intolerance I was expressing. I knew an important part of these days of rest was healing and tending to these aching needs.
One of the harshest realities about being human is that some of the most difficult moments in life must be traveled alone. Birth and death are examples of the narrow passage we all must travel one person at a time. Healing often includes taking an honest look at past hurts and giving them what they need to heal. So, I expected this stage of healing to be hard and I expected to have to go through it by myself.
Yesterday, I was trying to find an article a friend sent me several years ago and this caused me to scroll through years of old emails. Eleven years of emails, to be exact. It was overwhelming to see all of the encouragement, love, support, kindness and compassion this one friend sent me, as if it was her purpose in life to make sure I was loved well.
Those messages came in and through a thousand other messages: the ones from the school asking for volunteers, the ones from clients scheduling sessions, the ones from my mother-in-law about Christmas lists, the ones updating my Grandpa with attachments of my daughter’s latest writing.
My accidental review of this past decade surprised me.
Those emails revealed to me that I have been loved and supported with obscene abundance. Yes, I have done some really hard things these past few years. Yes, I have been in horrible and scary situations. Like you, I have had many raw, embarrassing, and heart-breaking experiences. Those moments are so consuming that it is hard to acknowledge anything or any one other than the searing pain.
I was reminded of that footprints poem where the woman asks God, “Why is there only one set of footprints during my hardest times?” And God says, “It is because I was carrying you.”
I guess that is what I was expecting, some version of one set of footprints.
Instead, I am looking back on those trying times and seeing not just my footprints, but dozens of others who have had my back, cheered me on, held my arms up, wiped my brow and reminded me every step along the way that I am loved.