Thursday, September 17, 2009


I went to spin class again. Masochism abounding. And the really scary part is that I think I acutally liked it. There is this meditative quality to the repetitive motion, and the burn in the legs and the strength in the body - I found myself pouring out gratitude to God for bringing me to this moment.

But then. There’s always a “but then,” isn’t there? The teacher was leading us in sprints. “Pedal faster,” she yelled. “Imagine that you need to get somewhere really quickly, quicker than you’ve ever gotten anywhere.” The image that flew unbidden to my mind was of me driving my car the wrong way through a bank parking lot to avoid a light, on the way to Vanderbilt hospital after I got the call that David’s surgery had gone awry. I left the house at a flat-out run, my heart pounding so that I couldn’t hear, and sped down every street between my house and the hospital, cursing street signs and pedestrians alike. I never wanted to get anywhere more quickly, and it never made less of a difference.

Suddenly there in the spin class I couldn’t breathe. It felt like someone had reached into my chest and squeezed my lungs and heart, with bolts of pain radiating out from the center of my chest. For a minute I thought I was going to pass out, but I kept pedaling, sat up straight and concentrated on breathing. Breathing always helps. Okay, usually. After a bit the pain subsided and my lung capacity began to increase back up from miniscule to normal.

It was just a filament of pain and sorrow woven into my day, but I wonder how many filaments and threads we just don’t see. Imagine a neutral colored cloth; if there is a shiny gold thread running through it you’ll notice that thread rather than the bulk of the neutral background. I think that’s how we live our lives: noticing the filaments of pain or threads of joy and too-often heedless of the everyday experience. But the grace of living isn’t just in those shiny moments, it’s in the sound of the rain on the roof right now, and the knowledge of tasks to be done later in the day.

I know I will experience those filaments of pain again, and the threads of joy. But I will try to take note of the neutral background as well, to hold the moments of everyday life in mindfulness. And I’ll go back to spin class, and give thanks for the leg burns and the muscle strength and the perfection of every moment.

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