It is a herculean task for one undergoing chronic purification, sometimes called chronic illness, to undertake a long drive in the car these days —but God’s Will is never denied. The Absolute Consciousness moves all of us around on this magnificent universal chessboard.
And this divine play of life is much like a chess game. In Life a royal battle ensues, we get to choose whether to participate or watch. A bishop skewers a knight, pawns are sacrificed, there’s a castle to seek safety and a queen who is all powerful. And everyone attempts to mate the King. When a chess game is over, some players participate in what is known as a post-mortem. In a post-mortem, the game is dissected, alternative possibilities discussed. What if I would have done this? What would you have done?
A chess game analogizes the spiritual path well. For when we truly surrender, we care not about the game itself, we are only attuned with the Maker. If we are attuned to the Maker, we are grace prone and realize it’s only a game. We no longer need to inject importance and reality, for it is God’s play. Watching or witnessing now replaces the need for struggle, attack, or defense. Love reigns supreme.
Sunday, I was able to be grandpa after a 3 hour drive from my Ben Lomond abode. I arrived at my daughter Jessica’s place in Sacramento just after 11 am. I brought us each a nice salad for lunch, an assortment of berries, and a tea called ‘mother’s milk’- (the primary ingredient is an Asian herb called shatavari that helps lactation while strengthening the female reproductive system). I also brought some clothes (hand me downs of high quality for her 2 year old), and a massage chair.
Minutes after I arrived, my daughter sent a text advising me that she was running late, while noting that all kids were on board-that be: 9 year old Peyton, 2 and a half year old Paxton and 7 month old Weston. I rested and readied myself for the onslaught of love which was only minutes away.
Excitement building, I got out of the car and stood on the front porch for all of a minute before I saw them driving towards me Head’s tilt, movement in the car, faces light up. Peyton, a few days from his 10th birthday, flings the car door open and meets me with a running hug; moment later Paxton body-slams me at the thigh level. He’s a toddler tank turned linebacker who grips my leg like a python. I manage to peel him from my leg and pick him up, with no small difficulty. I then lean in to see 7 month old Weston in his car seat. His bright, watchful eyes light up. The little guy is just 10 days removed from a hospital stay brought about by viruses, high fever and pneumonia.
As Jessica apologizes about the hurricane that has struck the inner sanctum known as her house, Paxton discovers his shiny green rain boots on top of the bag of clothes I brought in with me. They are way too big for him but he cares not, proudly putting them on, each on the wrong foot. He stomps about with a triumphant smile, a tiny soldier ready to do battle with any puddle that comes in his path.
Soon lunch is served. Jessica has mini pizzas for Paxton and Peyton, the baby is breast fed while the oven is heating the pies. Paxton sat next to his grandpa and was more interested in my salad then his pizza.
“Papa what’s that?” He says pointing at one of my shredded carrots.
“That’s rabbit food!” I say and put a single carrot strand into my mouth, nibbling it with my front teeth. He giggles and asks for one. Soon he is eating the rest of my carrots.
“Well, at least I know how to get him to eat carrots now.” Jessica wows. Peyton finishes his pizza in a flash and can hardly hold still, as he anticipates the ending of my lunch. He has a game of basketball on his mind. The backyard mini court is visible through the glass slider.
Peyton and I are soon shooting baskets. I assume a dual role, both one-on-one opponent and play by play color-commentator.
“Peyton penetrates to the right wing, cross over dribble, stop, pump fake and hits a left handed jumper just over the outstretched hands of Papa…”
After the game, I said: “Happy Birthday, buddy,” while handing Peyton a $20.00 dollar bill.
“Thanks, Papa. Now, I have $44.00 dollars!”
“So what are you saving for?”
“Oh, I have so many things…”
“Well, what’s your big thing?”
“A Lamborghini!” He exclaims with saucer-sized eyes.
“Really, well, you better keep saving Sport.” I smile.
Then I came in. It was time to give Weston some solid food. He grips my index finger while Jessica feeds him. He looks into my eyes with such purity, mirroring back the living presence of God.
It’s nap time and Paxton is far from ready, so I laid down next to him, into cuddle position.
“Time for our nap little buddy. When you wake up, you and Papa can play, okay.” This little pep talk is no sleep tonic. So I try again. “What if we see who can fall asleep first.” I cleverly submit. He likes this idea and turns away from me and pretends to go to sleep. After about 1 minute, he turns back around (to check to see if I am sleeping yet, I suppose) and looks at me with a heart piercing smile. Twenty minutes later after a few more starts and stops, his actual nap begins.
Jess and I have only precious minutes to share a few more simple moments. We have no time for any deep, philosophical or practical discussions. She is happy in the simplicity of watching me interact with her kids.
We slip away for a short 10 minute chair massage; it’s all I have the energy for these days, with fatigue and arthritis beginning to develop in my hands. We bond in silence as my hands glide over her.
As we finish, I say: “What do you usually do when the kids take a nap? Nap, I answer for her?”
“Yes.” She smiles.
“Well, it’s time for you to lie down.” Before she does, Jess escorts me to a nice grandpa style lazyboy chair for my own rest period. “Resting is my specialty”, I grin as she walks back to her bedroom.
A 4 hour drive back equaled the time we spent together -with ski traffic and an accident- yet no worth can be put upon this visit. Pure grace!