In the early morning hours of my recent birth day, I woke embraced in total darkness and thought of my mother exactly 74 years earlier. I knew her labor was prolonged and so I knew now, at 3am, she and I still had seven hours and 21 minutes ahead in the birthing task before us. As in that time nearly three-quarters of a century ago, I was surrounded by this same darkness within her body. In addition, I would have been moist, too, enclosed in a water environment much like all my swims later in life in the ocean, the bay, and the sound off the shores of Long Island.
An unexpected fact rose into my thoughts: I’d always been a fearful swimmer and in that moment of astonishing, fragile connection between two worlds seventy-four years apart, I questioned: was I fearful then? Of course, an instant response said silently, you must have felt terrified by being slowly pushed and squeezed forward into an unknown world ahead.
My thoughts returned to the wonder of the moment, an experience unlike any I’d ever experienced. Gratitude to my mom for giving me life rose within and gently filled all the spaces of my heart. I thought of all her labor: my birth, and all the tasks that followed in raising her first child. I was not an easy child to raise and our relationship wasn’t always smooth although, eventually, we did work through many of our conflicts toward the end of her 89 years. Yet, when she died, although I’d worked before and in years after to remove it, sadly one relentlessly immovable brick remained in the inner wall I had carried through the years.
Nevertheless, in the still-dark and mystical early morning of my birth day, I knew that my 74th birthday had opened with a profound gift of grace. At the end of the day I realized unequivocally that grace had unsparingly filled each moment of the day.
The next day, as I wrote about those mysterious moments, I found the gratitude that filled and softened my heart the day before remained. Then I thought I’d search for that stubborn, persistent brick that had weighed me down for decades–and discovered with joy that I could not find it; it had disappeared–for good, I believed.
I was intensely humbled by this gracious gift. My favorite word, shalom, slid into my thoughts, filling them with the rich, diverse affirmations the word gives: peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, and tranquility. And to you, my dear reader, I say, “Shalom.”
This piece was originally published at Story Circle Network’s One Woman’s Day blog.