It was a quiet week at Camp Dashew Park City this week. First Denise’s neck went into spasm from working at a not-ideal office setup here at camp headquarters. Then my lower back went into spasm from working at a, maybe, um, I’m not sure?
Regardless we were not feeling our best. Plus Teddy got sick. I don’t have children, but I have it on good authority (and a bit of experience) that it is well known that if children and/or dogs are going to get sick, it is almost always going to be at, say, 1:30 am, and then maybe again after you’ve spent a solid half hour cleaning things up and getting them into the laundry and finally going back to bed and getting to sleep at, say, 4:30 am.
Teddy is our lovely wheaten terrier who is a distinguished-gentlemanly almost-9-years-old. As sensitive as I am, he is more so. Allergies? You got it. Really tender tummy? Heck yes. A massive panic brought on by any kind of flashing lights, shadows or reflections which can turn into approximately 48 hours of panting and pacing before he steadies? Don’t mind if he does!
As we all get older, I am looking towards frustrations and irritations and spasms and middle of the night sickies as opportunities. As a way to reflect on whatever is going on that I might want to take a look at and shift. Mind you, this is not foremost on my mind in the middle of the night as I am furiously cleaning the carpet in our rental. But the next day it is. So it was that yesterday, while Denise was taking natural muscle relaxers and gently stretching her neck, while Teddy was pacing and barking, and while I was rolling deliberately on a red lacrosse ball, I started to think about things.
Before Garrison Keillor got fired for sexual misconduct, I was a fan of his storytelling. (I still think he’s a great storyteller but I haven’t decided yet where I fall on being able to separate art from the artist.) When I was a teenager I had a copy of his book Lake Wobegon Days and I devoured it. In these stories set in a fictional town in Minnesota, people had mishaps and learned lessons but for the most part they were funny, genuine, good people and I loved reading them and imagining Keillor’s voice: deep, nose whistling when stopping for a breath, calm and dry and affectionate.
There is one story in particular that has stuck with me for the past 30 years, not because I remember the whole plot, but because I remember that it is about the end of summer coming, the feeling that rolls into place as the seasons start to shift and cool and darken even as you bake in August heat. The thing I remember most is that as the story winds down he writes, “Thank you dear God, for this good life, and forgive us if we do not love it enough.”
So I was thinking about how grateful I am for my family, for the fact that Teddy is still around and kicking and reminding me to take a pause when he gets too worked up, how grateful I am for all our challenges and for all our gifts (often one and the same), for the fact that our bodies work well (mostly), and that we can explore and talk and hear (sort of) and touch and feel where we are.
Last night I took the dogs out for nighttime potty, and as I was walking on the grass a wind stirred the aspen trees. They rustled. The moon was rising gibbous and gold. Someone was playing “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison and it drifted across the hill to me and rocked my gypsy soul. I was overwhelmed with love.
Thank you dear God, for this good life, and forgive us if we do not love it enough.