Thursday, November 25, 2010

With Outstretched Hands

Hand Shadow on Cliff FaceIn your heart, you already know ~ Zen saying

Yesterday's Red and Rover cartoon depicts Red telling Rover about his holiday homework assignment. He was supposed to make a list of things for which he was grateful on Thanksgiving. All he needed was one word and it filled the entire page: Rover. I'm the same way. Give me a morning like this where my dog is lying on his bed next to my chair and the cat warming himself in the sun by the window and I know what I'm grateful for.

Some things are not so easy to appreciate and getting to the point where we can express gratitude for them may leave friends or family wondering if we've lost our marbles along the way. For instance, failing boards once was tough, twice bordered on downright demoralizing. However, the eight weeks I spent at the PASS Program were redemptive, they put medicine together in ways I could scarcely have imagined and my gratitude for Dr. Francis and the friends I made, overflows.

Redemption means more than putting a positive spin on things. It often entails self-forgiveness and I don't know about you, but that doesn't come second-nature to me. Letting myself off the hook for stupidity and stubbornness is frequently the last place I look for peace, even it's the best place.

Sometimes it helps to accept it from the hands of another. One of the things that helped me immensely in Champaign was the refusal of the staff to accept the verdict I had imposed on myself. I drove down there towing a virtual U-Haul trailer filled with regret, self-criticism, and fear over the possibilities of facing failure once again. And I wasn't alone. It seemed like everyone had a variant of my story to tell.

While no one could provide absolution, I experienced it nonetheless. I'm not certain when or how it arrived on my doorstep, but over time I just felt better. There was hope; I hadn't screwed the pooch so badly that I may as well pack up my toys, go back to Colorado, and spend the rest of my life hoping nobody ever asked me if I'd thought about going to medical school. There was hope because others had found it and could show me where to find it for myself.

I don't think it would be reasonable to say I'm grateful for those two failing grades because the truth is, I could do without them both. But I'm getting better at forgiving myself for them because there's so much more ahead of me than behind me. Does that make sense? There will be obstacles to overcome because of my mistakes but they're not insurmountable. It's kind of like what St. Paul once said, "Letting go of what is past, I press on with outstretched hands toward the goal of my high calling." On this Thanksgiving Day, I'm grateful for those who have helped me let go of the things that held me back so I can reach forward once again.

(Creative Commons image by Dominic's pics via Flickr)

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