A life dedicated to service...

Week 38: We can’t, and yet …

Each loss, be it physical or emotional, opens a door to new experience. When I first came to Victoria, a beloved person vanished from my life and I collapsed — heart over heels — deep down deep hole of grief and self-pity. Within a year I ‘found myself’ volunteering in palliative care, entering the realm of being-with-the-dying: not sure why I was there and how I could possible be of use to anyone.

Later, when I could no longer ride a horse, I trained in equine-facilitated wellness to bring a horse’s energy to someone living with cancer to learn to trust again. When chronic knee pain put a sudden end to that adventure, a spooked rescue dog arrived from Mexico: we now bring much joy (and occasional tears) to forgetful seniors.

It’s true what they say: as one door closes, another one appears. Maybe not the obvious one, nor the ‘right’ one. All we have to do is pay attention to what’s in front of us — and take a step towards it. Not always easy, especially when the ego is bruised and we’d rather hide under the bed, praying for a miracle cure.

Student laments to teacher, “I feel discouraged.” Teacher replies, “Go and encourage others.”

Mark Nepo writes —

… Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here—
in flawed abundance.

We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
of compassion.

we are small living things
awakened in the stream,
not gods who carve out rivers.

Like human fish,
we are asked to experience
meaning in the life that moves
through the gill of our heart. …

excerpted from “Accepting This” © Mark Nepo; image: from the Internet, source?

About the Author
Peter lives in Victoria, BC, where he volunteers in health-care. teaches mindfulness meditation, and offers end-of-life care.
  1. Carol Reply

    Thank you Peter. Just the one I needed today. Blessings to you.

  2. Kate Cone Reply

    Thank you for this, Peter. I found you through Do Yoga With Me. I have been meditating for a long time, but my CD player broke and I turned to the computer to find online meditations to do in the morning. I loved your mindfulness series, then began the Metta series. The day after my 64th birthday, Oct. 11, I found your website! I try not to get online first thing in the morning, but for your guided wisdom, I do it. Thank you again.

    Kate, Waterville, Maine

  3. Virginia Rego Reply

    I read, last night, in the middle of the night, the email that brought my first book publishing rejection. Bruised fragile human ego indeed! This post, and the Accepting This excerpt, read before my morning coffee are well-received as I bolster myself for the next door.
    I resonate especially with the notion that I am a small living thing, not a god – whether or not my book is published like a mighty river, or that simply the words I wrote form part of my being as I walk with compassion for self and others. Thank you!

    • Ellen Chapple Reply

      As a fellow small living writer, Virginia and Peter, I often remind my bruised, fragile ego that I will not be a better person for having written my book, nor will I be a lesser person if I do not write it.
      This gesture of loving kindness toward myself lasts until the next ego attack, at least.

  4. Penny Reply

    Blessings, Peter! Your post today has banished the “me and my story” weighing me down. So with compassion for myself I lovingly go out to support those who appeared so needy yesterday. Gratitude for all the sharing of fellow pilgrims.

  5. Ali S Reply

    So often your blog hits my heart as if you too were living my experience. I guess we are all–at some time or another–living these similar painful moments over and over it seems. When I feel the isolation and pain that these moments bring your wisdom reminds me that I am not alone. That this is the human experience. Be kind and loving to yourself. Things do get better maybe not “right” but better briefly and then another one comes along and derails your train once again and you carry on. Life is so circular this way.

  6. Rosemary Vigorita Reply

    Dear Peter,
    Your thoughts and words are so inspiring and you are a gift to all those around you.

  7. Raynnatta Reply

    Hello Peter

    My husband of many years quite recently passed away and so your comment about loss of course struck me.
    I know that I must and will move forward into the dawning of a new day, a new life in many ways, but it is a time of real heart pain, loss and missing.

    Thank you for the personal comments you shared. It is so comforting to read. It reminds me of the common thread of humanity. We are not ever really alone as we share this planet, and the journey continues with love still in our heart, even if their is also pain.


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