My head had the weight of a brick weighing down on my sinus’s and my eyes were a watery mess, in between sneezes I had a hacking cough. I should have been in bed, with someone feeding me soup, and cuddling me while I felt sorry for myself. Illness was not something I did well; I tried to run away from illness by ignoring it’s affect on my body and pushing past it to do what I wanted to do. Yesterday evening, that was music…and the companionship of my music minion friends. Music, honey,…and bourbon I was convinced was the cure to all aliments.
So I dressed up and took my sniffling self to Music Hall.
“What would you like to drink?” DP texted as I put my coat down.
“Ugh…something with bourbon in it, I have a bad cold.” Lucky for us Catholic’s we officially get a day off from our Lenten fast each week, mine was alcohol, so I figured I would take the evening to indulge for medicinal purposes. It was that or hack during the whole performance. What I didn’t’ realize was that DP was going to hand me bourbon…no mixers…straight bourbon.
“This might kill me.”
“Well, what a romantic way to die…here…listening to Wagner.” Who was I to argue with that. In my overly romantic brain, taking my final breaths listening to Wagner in the ornate splendor of Music Hall while I was consumed by consumption seemed delicious.
DP escorted me to our seats where MM, the life of the party with a hilarious sense of humor, warm personality, and a “Can you fucking believe what happened to me today??” MM used “fuck” in the kind of way that it was simply elegant.
I got my honey throat lozenges, my tissues, sipped my bourbon, and relaxed into conversing with my tribe.
“Are you going to make it to the second half?”
“Of course I am! Music is healing. But I would kill for soup. In fact, I think starting a Non-Profit that delivers soup to sick single people is brilliant idea. Can you imagine how wonderful that would be? You make a phone call, and at your door comes steaming hot soup…hot chicken noodle soup…or tomato soup and grilled cheese…”
“I can see the bourbon is kicking in…” DP said with a grin.
A few minutes later, the maestro entered the hall. He was the kind of conductor who was so seasoned, that as soon he walked on stage, you already had the most fantastic music without a note ever being played. What I enjoyed the most about his conducting were his hands. He had the most gentle hands, he made the littlest movements, soft and kind to watch. I could not pull my eyes away from his hands.
His hands reminded me of gentle moments and kindness and love, and as the music swelled underneath his fingers I was lulled into a remembering of truth. Truth and love lie in gentleness. Presence and command do not need harsh words or brute force, strength is gentle. It comes from confidence and repetition, and knowing…the gifts of imperfection. As his fingers beckoned members of the orchestra to play louder or softer, I thought love is a lot like that-it’s an invitation, a sharing. When we love someone, we don’t try to control them, we simply invite it to join with us, we beacon them. “Come here, come here with me and let us share in this beauty of life together.”
The evening was perfect, “Sniffles’ as MM now calls me, made it through both halves and stayed late to speak with friends after the show. I went home and immediately went to bed.
Got up this morning and made my concoction of healing medicine:
Mango, Peach, Orange Juice
2 Spoonfuls of local honey
For lunch …Chicken Pho noodles and broth with hot sauce to clear my sinuses.
And by the end of the day, as I was lounging my mare, practicing using gentle hands and gentle words. I also practiced “inviting” her. When she became frightened of a task I asked of her; trotting polls terrified her, got quiet and patient, let her be afraid, I did not get angry, just encouraged her, and found myself saying, “come here…come in and join me.” My daughter echoed, “Yes, Perdu, come here..come join our family, we trot polls in this family, it’s okay…we’ve got you. See I’m trotting polls too…it’s not scary.” A hopped over the polls and soon Perdu followed. By the end of the lesson we were all trotting polls together and laughing. Perdu, who was inconsolable only an hour earlier was now as gentle as we were.
I started to feel better again. Thank the stars…there is nothing that a little bourbon, honey, music, and soup and the wisdom of gentle hands can’t heal.
But more importantly, getting sick and slowing down a bit reminded me that strength lies in gentleness and love is an invitation, not a command.