I saw that phrase for the first time on Sunday and knew it was calling out to be written about. A facebook friend name Liz Teska had used it to describe an experience where she felt her beliefs were being tested. I experience that, oh, only every day. We can look at life challenges as obstacles that impede us, thwart our best efforts and knock us literally or figuratively on our butts or as opportunities to stretch our comfort zones. I sometimes refer to them as AFGO (Another Friggin’ Growth Opportunity) that I hadn’t realized I had asked for until they showed up, bearing gifts in their outstretched hands. What if everything that happens in our lives, including the losses, broken promises, disruptions in our comfortable lives, incoveniences, demands placed on us, were really orchestrated or at least co-created by One whose only intention is our Highest Good.
Today I was having a stream of consciousness conversation with my friend Ondreah about many ‘obstatunities’ that occurred over the past 20 years, beginning with my husband’s diagnosis of Hep. C in 1992. What brought it to mind was a class I attended on HIV and STD’s on Friday that is a requirement for my job as an addictions counselor. One of the conditions spoken about was that insidious liver disease, that if unsuccessfully treated can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and eventually death. The instructor was reviewing the symptoms, means of transmission, prognosis and treatment. With that, I was tossed back in time to recall how, as primary caregiver, I was called on to inject him with Interferon, do IV antibiotic infusion and provide personal care. It wasn’t heroic, but necessary and the ‘in sickness and in health’ part of our wedding vows. When my parents became ill, I stepped into that role again. It was an honor to provide care for them as well. With each subsequent passing, I felt strengthened and more resilient. I believe that when someone we love dies, they leave a piece, a spark of the love that they will alway be, right here with us. It is what allows me to keep from fearing death; mine or that of others. It is what keeps me stretching beyond my comfort zones in so many areas of my life.
In my role as minister, I officiated at memorial service on Sunday for the uncle of a friend. Driving into the windswept Jersey shore area, ahead of the storm, that will go down in history bearing the name of a friend of mine in addition to that of a certain scientist with a penchant for grave robbing and patchworking body parts together. Ondreah and I laughed and spoke a great deal about death since it was right there in our faces and because I am coming up on the 2nd anniversary of my mother’s death on 11/26 and the 14th anniversary of my husband’s death on 12/21. Even though the grief surrounding both of these losses is subdued, it is no less crucial as an obstatunity for moving beyond my previous interpreation of what it all means. In the midst of our conversation, we lapsed into our own raucus version of The Doors song People Are Strange. In preparation for the tempest, we then hummed the Wicked Witch of the West theme song from the Wizard of Oz. I think we needed comic relief and it worked. During the service which was held at the firehouse, since Bob had been a firefighter for many years, I kept thinking “I hope there isn’t a fire and these guys all go running.” The timing was perfect and no alarm went off. What a relief.
These days, obstatunities abound and I know that I continue to grow and stretch as if on monkey bars.
http://youtu.be/GJY8jJkDoMY People Are Strange- The Doors