Metta is the only thing we need Chozen reminded us again and again in April. It is the most vital tool to get one through all that has happened, all that may happen, all the myriad ways of suffering we encounter in our lives. Whenever we are feeling anxious or sad, do Metta practice.
It isn't just words. We have to mean it, we must cultivate an attitude of loving-kindness for our bodies. Without that love for the very body that moves the concept of "self" around, as well as love for that collection of memories, reactions, and ideas that is the "self", we cannot sustain ourselves. We easily fall into behaviors that lead to ill health.
If we love others, want to be loving towards others, we must start with the love of the self. The most important thing we can do for our loved-ones is to be here, to be present, and open-hearted from a foundation of loving-kindness. Helping to alleviate the suffering of others means being around to do so.
I had news about MJ today, not very good news. She still isn't stabilized and could quite easily have another stroke. She has slurred speech and quite a lot of body impairment. She has experienced some cognitive damage as well.
MJ doesn't recognize her daughter and thinks she's a nurse. MJ keeps telling the daughter, through very slurred speech and thinking she's a nurse, that she is so reminded of her daughter. They are considering calling her son to come home from Minnesota where he's working right now. It is possible that she may not recover much past this point and need assisted care for the rest of her life. There's a chance she may not even live.
As a kid MJ seemed so much older. When I would visit during the summer, quite often for a month at a time, she would drive me around. She was sweet to me and generally pleasant, but quite often seemed far removed and onto her adult life already. At some point growing up I realized that MJ was not actually that much older than I.
High blood pressure, diabetes, morbid obesity and a stubborn refusal to go to a doctor. Every time I would see MJ these past few years I would think that she really needed to loose some weight. I was concerned for her, it really wasn't just a few extra pounds, it was a problem.
Kind of a tough note to start sesshin on, although I suppose if not this then something else would pop up. I feel rather shocked and rattled by this news. More than anything it is the double-wammy of this news combined with my friend's cancer news. I'm also just really struck again at the ways people avoid taking care of themselves. MJ particularly avoided truly taking care of herself, putting it off, not wanting to think about it.
It is just kind of hard to watch sometimes. Sending her Metta, all that can be done.