Yesterday, I found myself leaving the emergency room of St. Luke's Hospital. I had developed a "subconjunctival hemorrhage" and a slight amount of "petechiae". This is a fancy way of saying a very small blood vessel popped in my left eye and I had a few tiny red freckles around both of my eyes. I was panicked that I was experiencing the beginning of a very serious medical condition. Turns out that all of my blood work and diagnostic tests came back completely normal. I'll just look a little weird for a week or so.
I called my mom to update her and let her know that nothing was seriously wrong with me. I wandered down the street, into the children's sculpture garden of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. As I was explaining to my mom that I was just fine, I found myself tearing up. Maybe they were tears of relief, or fear, or maybe it was frustration with the week I had just finished. Over the past few days I have discovered many more of my friends have lost their jobs. I'm beginning to wonder how I've been so fortunate to escape that situation in this economy. I work very hard, though not any harder than my friends who have been let go from their positions. I'm beginning to think that luck has a lot to do with it.
I sat in that sculpture garden for about 20 minutes and had a good cry. The sun had come out, the wind was blowing, and I felt lost. I'm worried about the uncertainty we're all facing, despite the fact that I have managed uncertainty so many times before. I feel like the ground is shifting beneath our economy, and there is no sign of it settling down any time soon. I was angry for my friends who have been let go from their jobs - hard working, talented people who were seen as a line item on a company's excel spreadsheet, an expense rather than a resource and an investment. I felt shaken.
I had never really looked at that giant sculpture next to Saint John the Divine. It's a collaborative piece of work based on Noah's Ark and the triumph of good over evil. The Cathedral has been closed for some time for renovations and recently re-opened. I was weary from my hospital visit though felt drawn into that incredible cathedral. I wandered in and it was nearly empty. The choir was practicing and I felt drawn to sit in the center of the space, letting that beautiful music wrap around me like a warm hug. Though I am not a religious person, I felt that God was very close to me at that moment, that he knew what I was going through, and wanted to help.
I let my eyes tear up again, I was cemented to that seat, transfixed by the music. After a little while I got up and walked around the edge of the cathedral, stopping to look at each of the small chapels. The light shone through them so brilliantly. I had never seen stained glass that colorful and perfect. By the time the choir stopped, I got to The Poet's Corner, a small area that pays tributes to literary greats such as Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and Gertrude Stein. They each had their names and birth date engraved into a stone, along with a quote they famously wrote.
One quote particularly caught my attention. Theodore Roethke said, "I learn by going where I have to go." I thought about this quote all the way home. It reminded me that I have places I need to be, where I've committed to be, and there are things for me to learn there and to take somewhere else. Today, I just need to do what I have to do. The acts of hope and faith are a daily process. Just keep showing up.
The image above can be found here.