As I worked, I spoke to the man in the bed. I know him well enough to respect his work, his integrity and the patience and compassion he wears like comfortable shoes. As I spoke, a family member chimed in, sharing a story about him. Before long, memories flowed from others gathered, filling the space with the peace that comes with honoring what is good.
One of the family members asked if I minded her asking questions. I didn't. She wanted to understand what exactly Reiki is, and whether I considered it to be a gift from God. There was a time when I would have dodged the question. I didn't. We talked of faith, of gifts, of blessings. We talked about Heaven. Her vision of it and mine. I knew and appreciated the strong faith of the man in the bed. We held hands and prayed.
"It's funny", the woman mused, " we look for peace where we think we will find it. In churches, in holy places. Then we find it in a place like this. This is sacred."
As I went on about my day, her words turned over again in my mind. Too often, peace alludes me, even as I seek it. Her words, this experience, reminded me that peace is our natural state.
Later that afternoon, I picked up my daughter to bring her to volunteer at the horse stable. Our job was to clean out 10 paddocks. Wheel barrel and pitch forks in hand, we set out. Her animated, near constant chatter eventually gave way to what was. The scraping of a pitch fork in the dust, the vibrant energy of horses who know feeding time is near, the occasional buzz of flies trying to beat us at our work. As we worked, other kids were taking a group riding lesson. I gazed at my daughter, looking for a hint of envy in her face. I didn't see it. Instead, I saw the look I'd seen on the woman's face earlier. A vision of complete and utter peace. A portrait of grace. I decided not to ruin the moment with words, and we continued to work along side each other. She was the first to break the silence. "Do you mind scooping poop?" she asked, perhaps expecting me to crinkle my nose and complain. At one time I would have dodged the question. I didn't. "No." I answered with certainty. "I actually enjoy it." We talked about peace, about work and play. We talked about whether animals are kinder and better than people. We talked about the places in which we see God.
We left an hour and a half later; hot, tired, dusty and perfumed with the stink of manure. I gulped in a deep breath, once again holding back words that could do no justice in portraying the joy in my heart. Today I am grateful for quiet spaces, for those brave enough to ask questions, for those comfortable enough to admit doubt, for those who seek peace and for those who find it. Today I'm grateful for prayers and paddocks.