I had just taken out a couple of dying elderberry bushes when I injured my knee for the second time in two months. I had tripped on a limb y-joint and I heard the “pop” when my knee corkscrewed as I went down. For a split second, I was afraid I’d seriously damaged it this time. But when I tested it, limping to the house for an ice bag, it didn’t seem quite so bad as that nauseating popping sound might have suggested.
Still, I realized I needed to take a moment to contemplate what was going on. So I sat on a step with the pack on my knee and did just that. I immediately connected the injury to the telephone conversation I’d had right before going out to do the pruning. My longtime astrologer and dear friend, Sally McDonald, had called to give me details about the cancer she was having surgery for in a few days. The cancer had been a surprise to her. She was still in shock. So was I. And I was afraid for my friend.
Sally was not the first among those dear to me to be dealing with life threatening illness. My husband had been managing life with metastasized prostate cancer for two and a half years. My youngest sister’s hepatitis C had reactivated six months earlier, after a six-year remission following the birth of her son and a liver transplant. While I was ridiculously healthy, those around me were not, and when friends asked me how I seemed to be managing so well, I talked about how I didn’t believe in death, how grateful I was for every day with my loved ones . . . and how living with their illnesses was a little like living with a persistent and constant slight fever.
I hobbled inside to see what Louise Hay had to say about knee problems. I had a good deal of faith in my own ability to sort out the energetic reasons for problems, but Louise Hay was always a good place to start when it came to physical maladies. Louise related knee problems to fear, inflexibility, stubborn ego and pride. Fear? You bet. Inflexibility? Stubborn ego and pride? Those three were, no doubt, there. I was human, after all. But I wanted to dig deeper.
So I thought about the elderberry bushes. We had been living in our beautiful home for eighteen years and the elderberry bushes had already been mature when we moved in. I had planned to do just a bit of pruning that day, but there was so much dead wood in two or three of them that I ended up removing those completely. It was time to let them go. I knew I needed to do the same thing with one of the lilac bushes. The blue spruce next to it and lilac bush in front of it had edged it right into oblivion. And a year earlier, I’d hired a friend to take down two trees that were struggling. While there was so much vibrant life in my yard, not everything was making it. Like all mature yards, some things were past their prime and dying.
I realized that a part of me was resisting it. I was resisting the departure of bushes and trees that had been friends for years and I was also resisting the illnesses of those I loved, fearing that they might depart, too. I was trying to hold back time and change. That was where the inflexibility was coming in. Despite my deep spiritual understanding that everything and everyone survives what we think of as death, a part of me was stubbornly hanging on to some point in time in the past, a point in time when bushes and people were younger and healthier.
Of course, at some level, I was clinging to some past version of myself, too. At sixty, I found it curious that I was now likely in the last quarter of my life–if I was lucky. How could so much time have passed? There was so much left for me to be and do.
I realized I needed to let go at a deeper and more profound level than I ever had. I knew that love lived on, that it was the most enduring thing in the universe, that one instant of love for anyone or anything reverberated on and on into infinity. I’d experienced it and I needed to trust it now. And while I’d practiced and taught the art of making death the aly for many years, I needed to trust the very cycle of life and death at a more profound level, too. There comes a time when life and death look back at you when you look in the mirror each morning and I had come around to that very point in this life–as I, no doubt, had come around in life after life before this one.
Ice, elevation, ibupropin–and a great massage therapist–got the knee back on track. I got my mind, spirit, and emotions back on track, too. I contemplated the divine paradox: none of us are getting out of here alive and all of us are getting out of here alive. I might as well let go and ride the wave of this life.
Three weeks passed. And then I was in a thrift store and came upon a set of gorgeous, never used, Mikasa china: eight plates, twelve bowls, and twelve bread plates. I gaped. And I thought about the china I was using every day at home. My grandmother had purchased it as a wedding present–forty-one years ago. I had left the troubled marriage in 1979. How I had managed to end up with the china, when so much else had been lost, was a long standing mystery. My second husband had been cheerfully eating off that china our entire marriage. It was time to let it go.
As I loaded my cart with the treasure, it occurred to me that this find might not have come to me if I hadn’t heeded the message about letting go and trusting the cycle of life and death. I had wanted to divest myself of that china from another life for some time and my opportunity to do so was presenting itself almost effortlessly. As soon as I had gotten the message in more profound areas of my life, I was open to it in other, more mundane areas.
Apparently, all I’d had to do was let go.
Copyright 2009 by Melanie Mulhall