The Widow

As I waited outside a classroom today, I read from a textbook (any book with words printed in it is, by definition, a "text" book, but I digress), and a passage in it broke me.

"Imagine you're an 80 year old woman whose husband has just died..."

and suddenly I was there. I was her, grieving at the graveside, sorting his things, hearing his will, and sleeping alone for the first time in 55 years. I felt the tears of loss well up inside me, turn into crushing frustration at our mortal condition, and finally come boiling to the surface as a forceless, helpless rage. Anger is my idiom, so even as an 80 year old woman I'm angry.

How and why, did I suddenly have this powerful feeling of compassion and empathy for an old woman I've never met? (I swear I will break off a size 12 in the ass of the first person who suggests that it is because I am old as well.) Could it be that all the years of meditation have finally soaked in? Perhaps I am actually beginning to put down the warrior role, and move into something more nurturing...

Even just typing that feels odd. Part of me wants to know if there is a way that I can be compassionate and empathetic in a really angry, kick-ass-now-and-take-names-later sort of way... it's a comfortable old suit I've worn for most of my life. Couldn't I be some kind of "nurturing warrior"...?

That's just fear of change talking there. I'm comfortable with being grumpy and ready to fight, but the path is not really about being comfortable, now is it?


Mark Travis said...

We are asleep if we are too comfortable. In christianity the Holy Spirit most often acts as that which shakes up our life, like a mighty rushing wind. But, of course, you probably already knew that.

Nice post... pinky liberal!

Rachel said...

I found this post surprisingly moving, perhaps because I realize how strange a paradigm shift that must be for you. More accurately, I found it touching because I have seen that nurturing element in you for a long time and observed that internal negotiation between warrior and nurturer.

I feel proud of you (if you'll allow me that liberty) for awknowledging this awareness. Compassion suits your strength and wisdom.

Clayton said...

If that is the fruit of meditation, then I think I need to more seriously pursue Zen Mormonism

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