Whenever I struggle to get out of bed in the morning, I think of these words from Barbara De Angelis, "There are people who are going to die by the end of today. There are people who would give anything to have one more day with someone they love. There are people who would gladly take every day someone else decides doesn't count and add it to their life span. The truth is, every day is precious and every day counts."
Today was precious beyond words, for I held a dying woman’s hands in mine and comforted her while she was lovingly and respectfully bathed, cleansed and soothed by an incredible nurse. It was the most humbling and beautiful experience I have ever bore witness to.
I thought it would be confronting to see a body ravaged by illness, but such a selfish thought had no place in the moment and was instantly dismissed. On the grand scale of things there was no room for such an inherited and utterly useless concept of feeling confronted by the sight of a naked body. This was a human being after all.
My attention was instead focused on the beauty of the scene unravelling before me. There we were, three women, strangers to each other, coming together to care and be cared for. I was privileged to be a part of this act of unadulterated unconditional love.
I am unsure if the sacred ritual of bathing another has perhaps become ingrained to those who perform such tasks on a daily basis, but the care delivered by this nurse showed no evidence of being routine. I was completely left in awe of the woman that worked before me.
To see a human body at its most vulnerable and delicate state spoke a million words to me. There was nothing ugly, nothing shocking, nothing to see other than the beauty that is the human form. The body is the golden chariot that transports our soul through this wonderful life. It is an incredible miracle, capable of immense accomplishments including creating new life. Yet we spend so much time hiding it away, consumed by what we see as ‘failings’ when we look in the mirror, or showing it off to excess as a means to hide that which we wish to keep secret.
We are obsessed by our appearance for too long in this life at the expense of things that truly matter. And yet as if by some strange form of irony, at the end stage of life, the body is hidden in plain sight, obscured by the incredible beauty of the soul within. It is the soul that radiates and speaks volumes without any words required. It is the soul that touches the hearts of others. The body simply functions, like it always has, until the end.
If we are living a life where we judge people by the chariot in which they are being transported in through this life, including looking at ourselves in the mirror, then we are not seeing the exquisiteness of the soul within; and we are missing the point of our existence entirely.
Get on with life, get on with a meaningful life. Love all your lumps, bumps, curves and dents. They are unique to you. Love your hair, your flat, frizzy, short, long, thinning, too thick hair. Love your legs and arms, your cellulite, floppy bits, hairy bits and dry bits. Love your too small, too close, too big, going blind eyes. Love your feet, your rough parts, ingrown nails, short fat dumpy toes. Love it all. Just love it and get on with doing something more meaningful rather than obsessing, preening and criticising.
Love every bit of you while you live and breathe. Love every bit of you while you have the time and ability to enjoy the incredible experiences this physical chariot enables you to enjoy. Because just maybe, sooner than you expected, it will be time to hand it back.