Friday, August 24, 2007

Missing the Group

Humans are definitely social, herd animals. No matter how much we enjoy being alone and having that ever dwindling "me space" or "me time" there are just moments when being part of a group, being part of the crowd is beyond wonderful. A more perfect example couldn't be found than last Saturday in my mind.

Hubby and I went to tai chi in Georgetown like normal. I missed the pre-final meeting because Jaybird said, "If you don't go to tai chi you're going to miss your own birthday cake!" The wife of a tai chi class member made a cake just for me. OK, I thought, missing a cake someone made for you for your birthday isn't a good thing. It just isn't nice. It goes against everything Southern in my being. So, of course I went.

The morning wasn't as hot as it usually has been so tai chi helped to warm the body and settle the mind and spirit...for me. Doing the movements. Letting them flow from one into the other gave me a peace I had been missing for the past several days. Just Bill wasn't there leading us intrepid tai chi-ers(?), but we had instruction and practice and it was good, very good.

At breakfast I ate sparingly because we were heading to my birthday luncheon/early dinner at three o'clock that very afternoon. Talk was happy and chipper and I let myself relax into the buzz and hum. I was a part of what was going on and yet able to separate myself just enough to observe it and drink it in like an over-dry sponge. However, when the time for cake came I was very much in the present and very, very close to happy tears.

When I knew there was going to be a cake for me I expected it to be a sheet cake. When it was unveiled I was flabbergasted: It was a homemade from scratch turtle cheesecake! For me. For my birthday. To share with my friends. With the group that had accepted me down to the core and was celebrating my life with me in a glorious, quiet, gentle, happy fashion.

No matter how much we need space. No matter how much we, as individuals, need time to just settle back into our own skins, being part of the group, welcomed and cared for is what we need to the core of our beings. In the Orthodox Church we say that those people who become monks or nuns and go out into solitude have received a very special gift from God. I didn't understand it at all until this past Saturday because I knew, deep down, I couldn't give up these people nor my study of tai chi or the study of things in general. Why? Because acceptance is precious and should be treasured like the wonderful gift it genuinely is. It is one of the most wonderful gifts we have received from God.

I have found acceptance in two places, in two groups, and I feel very blessed and humbled by this. One place is Church. The other is tai chi class. Some would say they are two totally unrelated groups, kinds of people. I disagree. They are just people. Human beings. We are all living and moving forward and trying to find our way to peace as much as possible here on earth as well as here after. It is a difficult struggle, but we are not struggling alone any more. We have each other and the great strides of one can be appreciated by all, as well as the smallest of steps by the beginner. We can rejoice in all of it, because we are actively walking, traveling on a journey, on an adventure

Like most people I forget the wonderment of the journey. I let life and living get in the way of Living and seeing how far I have come and actually let myself look forward to the journey that is before me. I let school and bills and other people sidetrack me into small holes here and there, but the journey still goes on and there are little sign posts, rest areas along the way where we stop for a moment and remember where we are, who we are and where we have come from, and, hopefully, where we are going (even if we aren't very sure at times). One of those days, one of those rest areas was, for me, last Saturday.

Sadly, I am probably not going to be able to go to tai chi tomorrow because I need to finish recuperating from this yuck that has tried to swallow. Still, just like the movements of tai chi, they are here with me and, perhaps I am with them. A part of the group.

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