Monday, September 27, 2010

Stepford-wifelike stupor

I experienced a moment of grace this morning when I was not being particularly graceful. As a matter of fact, I was acting downright selfish and, yet, the kindness of a stranger was bestowed on me

I sped to the gym with all of my gear after getting both girls off to school (ok, well it's Tad who walks them to the bus and gets their breakfast), bent on being finished at 8 when the crowd takes over the lap lanes. In fact, previously one in that group jumped in on me and we collided. Seared in my memory, it's an image that haunts me.

As I push open the glass doors and swipe my membership card, I lapse into an almost hypnotic trance, bent on a single goal: traveling into the pool as quickly as I can and clipping through my laps before I have to share a lane. They are narrow,  creating treacherous passing and shoulder pain as I squeeze when I meet  another. It also prevents me from sinking into any rhythm as I am constantly on the lookout, getting my head out of alignment, craning to detect the other (very difficult in foggy goggles with my extreme nearsightedness sans glasses), making sure we don't bump. It's not relaxing, energizing or very productive. However, I have been grateful on occasion to share when no lanes are available; it's barely better than not swimming ... at least I am moving.

I was in that zone today, cruising to my usual locker, efficiently stripping down to my suit, grabbing my one "wet" bag and robotically marking off the usual pattern of paces across the slate floor to the pool door. And bang, it hit me. I had forgotten my towel. I had duplicates of hairdryers, shampoo, cream rinse and everything else, but no towel. That's even worse than no underwear.

I was so unnerved, I must've said it out loud and a dear voice from the other room responded: "Well, I have two, please take one of mine." I learned it belonged to Linda. I had recognized her face, but never knew her name. I pegged her as one of the aquatic exercisers, not a swimmer and, in my zone of eagerness, tried very hard to eclipse her entry into the pool to ensure I had a private lane. She had been on the periphery of my vision as I stuffed my locker and sprinted to the water.

Apparently she had noticed me. Not only that, she came to my rescue. She nudged me out of my Stepford-wifelike stupor and into the present moment. Fortunately, I noticed the nudge and soon realized the grace of the situation.

I really think my state of being able to see this began yesterday in worship when I sat down in what I'd like to call the power pew: when I selected a row alongside some of the most spiritually deep and aware women I know. I had the sense that this was something special. Another moment of grace. And it's a collection that I had not thought to put together or been in any circumstance with before. We probably represented three decades in age and a variety of experience. I have had private and extraordinary encounters with each of these women, grown to love them and relish their wisdom and insight.

I had not chosen my seat for the company it offered, but rather out of haste as I had arrived on the late side, sought a bit different view than last week and planned to park myself quickly. After I took my place, I noticed the two women to my left. Later, another sat to my right and another, farther to my left and across the aisle, spoke, signaling her presence.

In that worship, each one of us was led at different times to speak. The intensity of our positioning, proximity and the fact we were gathered* was palpable.

And it must still be with me because I normally would have skipped to the pool in my usual focused fog.

* Quakers use the term gathered when a worship is particularly Spirit-filled

• What awakens me from unawareness?
• How long am I able to hold onto that?
• Is there a spiritual practice that helps increase my awareness?
• Who are those with whom I connect more deeply?
• What recently has been a gift of grace?




the actions
are rote,
not my own


me out
of myself



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