Today is my daughter’s birthday party. Lots of thirteen year olds descending on the house in a couple of hours. We just finished the cleaning, now there are cakes and cookies to be made. Two of her friends are coming to help with that. We had a rough day yesterday on her actual birthday. First this guy was watching and following me in his car while I was out walking the dog. He ended up approaching me and asking me about the dog. But it was creepy. Who follows people they don’t know in their car and then pulls up to talk to them out of their window? Then later in the evening my children’s father’s house was broken into while my son was there. He lives right across the street, so that was two weird and scary things in the neighborhood in one day. The night ended with talking to the police and checking all the locks. It wasn’t a very restful night and my daughter slept in my room. But this morning we seem to have recovered some of our balance and have had a good day so far. My trust in the world has been shaken. It’s hard to maintain a belief in light and love when people are invading your space with the intent to do harm. I got confused last night about what is necessary in our lives for growth and what is just plain cause for suffering. It’s not that I have ever understood it. I don’t have a spiritual understanding or belief that tells me why suffering is needed at all. Nothing ever makes sense to me about why such awful things can happen to people. But I was beginning to think that the suffering I have gone through in my own life when I had my experiences that led to to the hospital and up to this point was somehow necessary for me to get to the place I am in now, which has lately been feeling like a very, very wonderful place to be in. I haven’t ever forgotten that there is suffering in the world. But like many years ago when I undertook a period of growth before my world was shattered, I have lately been noticing this innocent feeling hope in my heart… a hope that says that life really can be full of joy. That you can actually get better and live a beautiful life. I was beginning to let myself feel safe. But yesterday thinking of my thirteen year old daughter’s and sixteen year old son’s safety in their own home when there are people breaking the glass on the back door and rifling through the cabinets and also being followed myself by a stranger with dubious intent has made my heart full of questions again. Full of fear of what could happen in this world we live in. The day was even stranger because before all of this fear-producing real-life drama was happening, I was having amazing conversations with people that I respect about spiritual growth and the truth about love and fear in the world. Why I would have such big conversations about the nature of love and my own growth as a person and then right away have harmful people noticing and violating me and my family in our neighborhood is hard for me to understand. I am open to understanding if there is a way to make sense of it. I do want to feel safe. I want to believe in goodness and light. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted, actually. My heart aches for beauty and love. I want so much to turn my face toward the sky and live with it’s blue loveliness in my constant sight. But oh, the blizzards. The hurricanes. The tornadoes. Those violent acts of nature are just as real as the calmest day of the season. Yesterday brought that back to me in a very real way. And I just don’t know where my place is. I want it to be in the gentle sunlight. And sometimes I can almost believe that it can be. But I am still not so certain. Because what I have learned the hard way is that we live in the world. And sometimes the world has ideas about us and experiences for us that we would never choose on our own. At least not at the level most of us can understand. I am hoping that over the next few weeks as we process yesterday’s events I do return to the feeling of safety that I was beginning to get a glimpse of. I hope this time through quiet meditation and prayer that I can make it real and lasting in my heart. Because I know my heart is the exact place where I need to live. That is no longer a question. My heart is my truth. And I welcome its wisdom. But I need to find a way to be safe in the real world. The world of other people and illness and disaster. May it be so for all of us. Gentle safety.