For You: A Candle Burning

SedonaStonesThrough a stroke of incredible good fortune and family kindness, I spent Thanksgiving in Sedona, AZ and it was wonderful. Sedona is supposed to have several energy vortices that generate peace, awareness, and various types of transformation. I’m pretty sure this atmosphere affected even my dad who, of course, does not believe in such nonsense (and, I believe, actually once scoffed out loud at people meditating near one of the vortices), and yet managed to return from one of his trips with a now suspiciously well-worn ochre-toned t-shirt that my mother calls “his Zen shirt.”

In any case, Sedona was just one of the many gifts that have graced my life in the last several months, and that have allowed me again and again to experience the poetry of Psalm 23:5, “My cup overflows with blessings.” So many people have helped me in so many ways over the past 22 months. I am awestruck almost every day by something that reminds me of all of the goodness, sweetness, and love that is and has, quite simply, just been there.

There’s someone in my life right now who is my personal angel Gabriel, only she drives a black tricked out Chrysler 300 and swears a lot. But every word out of her mouth, no matter what she is actually saying, is essentially this: “Do not be afraid;  for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” That’s what she’s saying, over and over, all the time. If I could give her to everyone I know for Christmas, I would.

Instead, I’ll share a few of the things she tells me, because a lot of people struggle with holiday crap, and with just crap in general that gets magnified at this time of the year, and passing along her wisdom might help. She says things like, “Yeah, you could do life on your own. You could. But you shouldn’t, and anyway, WHY THE FUCK would you want to??” (I told you she swears a lot). She also says, “Nothing is going to get better until you figure out how to make YOURSELF the love of your own life. Stop caring so much about what everyone else thinks. Because for real? They’re not really thinking about you all that much.”

Often she says, “Whatever bullshit you’re telling yourself about how HARD things are is wrong. Nothing is HARD. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s not actually hard. It’s simple: do the next right thing even when you don’t want to. Even when it makes you uncomfortable. And for God’s sake, look around. Don’t you see all these other people who could use some damn help? Do something for them and stop thinking about yourself.”

Chapel2

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ

When I was in Sedona, I went to the Chapel of the Holy Cross and it was beautiful. As in most Catholic churches, there’s an area where you can light a candle as a way to offer prayers for someone or something. Also, like most (all) Catholic churches, there was a donation box. I didn’t have any cash with me, so I left a sobriety medal instead. I also left a small cross that my mom gave me when my life fell to pieces, because I wanted to give it back, as a way to say thank you for the fact that my life is shaping itself back together in a way that feels miraculous.

I use this word very deliberately because, as my gorgeous, my foul-mouthed angel Gabriel says, “You want to know why your life feels like a freaking miracle, girl? Because IT IS a freaking miracle! After what you did, after what happened to you, if you don’t see that as divine intervention, you trippin’. Everyone who wakes up in the morning and has the sense to be grateful that they woke up at all is a damn miracle!” (She really does swear a lot).

So there is something I want you to know. And I mean you, specifically, reading this right now. At this very moment, there is a candle burning just for you in the Chapel of the Holy Cross in the breathtakingly beautiful red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. Because when I lit one of my candles, I thanked God for every single thing, everything large and small, known and unknown, every spoken and unspoken act of kindness, love and mercy that I’ve received in these past two years. That candle, that light, that flame is there for you. Right now, for whatever you need in whatever way you need it.

offeringcandles

American poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” Sometimes in recovery people say, “You don’t have to believe you’ll get better. We’ll believe it for you until you’re ready to believe it for yourself.” So just in case you need some extra light or warmth, there’s at least one flame out there especially for you. Because that’s how it works. That’s how we make it.

All love, all gratitude, and lots of hope for a joyful holiday,

Leslie

What We Need is Here (by Wendell Berry)

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
SedonaMary1

Tlaquepaque Mary, Sedona

12 Comments

Filed under Christmas 2014, gratitude, recovery

12 responses to “For You: A Candle Burning

  1. Beautifully written Leslie! I’m so thrilled to hear of your healing, and for the multiple blessings that are in your life. Sometime I’d love to hear moreof the details of this miraculous journey you’ve been on. With much love always, Lana

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  2. Ree

    Goin’ in my quote book. “Nothing is HARD. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s not actually hard. It’s simple: do the next right thing even when you don’t want to. Even when it makes you uncomfortable.” Thanks for being the medium who shares the wisdom of your personal Gabriel with the world.

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  3. Terri

    Beautifully written (as always). So happy to hear that life is “shaping itself back together.”

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  4. Dave and Mary

    So happy to be a part of your journey – as troubled or elated you may feel – remember – we are always here for you.

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  5. Pingback: Holiday Gratitude For You | leslie crowley

  6. mem

    Your writing never ceases to amaze me. You have a special gift of being able to express your thoughts in such a way that it touches everyone. Your writings always have meaning and bring comfort to me in some way. I am so pleased that you are in a better place and continue to heal.
    Mem

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  7. Don Crowley

    Leslie- What a beautiful Christmas message from a beautiful person inside and out. My “Zen shirt” actually says “Silence is the absolute balance of body, mind and spirit”, silence being my operative mantra as you know. May your cup continue to run over during this holy season and bring you true peace in the year to come. Love always, Dad

    ________________________________

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  8. MaryAnne Crowley

    Poignantly beautiful, one your best ever. God bless you always. love, mom

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  9. Shelly Wickwire

    I love Wendell Berry! Happy Holidays Leslie.

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  10. Hi Leslie,
    Cynthia shared your Sedona reflection with me. I just left Sedona and absolutely love it there. It is a very healing place. I wish you all the best in 2015 and hope we can sometime get together when I return to Urbana in April. I live in CA with my husband, Jack, in Lake San Marcos near San Diego. Blessings and Love, Sharon Monday

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  11. Courtney

    You, my dear wet brain, are an amazingly brilliant writer! What a gift! I truly enjoyed reading all of your posts and especially find the poems you have included very poignant . 2015 is finally OUR year and I will continue to be so incredibly thankful that I met you. Who would have guessed that a great friendship would be one of the “gifts” we both received.

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