“Do you want me to massage your leg?” I asked Ming. He woke up with a leg cramp.
“No, it’s already gone,” he said.
“Oh, I’m glad your leg is gone. That means you don’t have to walk anymore. There’s a song about that!” Then I sang for him.
If I ever lose my legs,
I won’t moan, and I won’t beg
Yes, if I ever lose my legs,
oh eeeee, eeeee.
I won’t have to walk no more.
I learned the acoustics are super nice, in that little bedroom, where we’re staying in Beatty.
“It’s the perfect song for kids!” I said.
“Really?” Ming asked, incredulous.
“Yeah! Losing all those things about my body. Those ideas were so perfect for me to hear. That if I lost my legs, or hands, or eyes, or mouth, I would be ok. There could be a good thing about it.”
I sang other verses for him.
“I heard that song before,” Ming said. “But I didn’t understand the words. I didn’t believe they could be saying that!”
The song predates me. When I was little, my family would listen to Cat Stevens. Lying on the living room floor. That was some of my first music.
And when I was a school kid, on a field trip to a park, there was a guy with a guitar, and I asked him to play that song for me. I was so happy when he knew it and began to sing it for me. I called other kids over to hear the song.
Then the teacher saw what was happening and broke it up. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t ok for this guy in the park to play that song for us.
The part about “did it take long to find me, I asked the faithful light,” I always thought was about God. That was a cool idea to get in my head very early also, that God could just show up, and I would ask God if she was going to stay the night.
It prepared me for the idea of Christ as the stranger, how we are all one, and even keeping a seat at the table for God, or a room in your house. Deep respect for all people. “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least,” Dorothy Day said.
I didn’t really learn that in my family, as a kid, but I learned it from Cat Stevens, books, my own independent ecstatic experiences of God.
All of this reminds me of the Guest House poem by Rumi, version by Coleman Barks. The guests show up, and we learn their lessons. Even if they’re clearing us of our furniture.
Stuff like illness, heartbreak, loss, anger, shame, fear are going to happen, whether we want them to or not. We might as well welcome them in and learn.
We stopped by the goddess temple on our way here to Beatty. The interior has been repainted this orangey pink. Love to all. Love especially to Ming and his leg cramp. Thank you for drinking water, sweetheart.