"Are you OK with messy?" asked Rebecca.
I laughed and replied, "No." I was lying face-up on a massage table. This was my first-ever Reiki session.
I decided my thirty-ninth birthday would be a fitting time to try something new. I've been curious about Reiki ever since I first heard about it at a Catholic retreat center in rural Wisconsin thirteen years ago. I was attending a Lutheran pastors' conference and the word on the street was the Franciscans running the center were liberal. So liberal, in fact, they'd give us Holy Communion if we turned up at their Vespers service. And apparently so liberal they allowed a practitioner of Reiki to offer her services on site. Those Franciscans in Wisconsin embodied the best of religious life: a belief that God cannot be contained in one tradition and that healing comes in many forms.
"I'm nervous," I said to Micah as we drove from downtown Boulder, Colorado to my Reiki session. "I get nervous about the weirdest things," I added. "Yes you do," laughed Micah.
The dimly lit room smelled of frankincense. In my hands I held two stones that were heavy and smooth and cool to the touch. "So you stay grounded and in your body," Rebecca said as she handed them to me. She was a petite woman with enormous eyes, like magnifying glasses, that seemed to see right through me. I put one stone on my heart and the other on my stomach, exactly where she told me to. The weight of the stones on my torso felt welcome and comforting. Rebecca placed her hand on my right thigh. Over time it began to feel like a hot iron on my wrinkled black linen pants. I suppose that's what I hoped she'd do for me: iron out any confusion and pain in my body so that I'd emerge more put together.
"Are you OK with messy?" asked Rebecca almost as soon as we'd begun. I wondered if there was something about my appearance that revealed my pension for neatness and perfectionism. It's like she knew I had spent a considerable portion of our time camping in Wyoming two days before trying my damnedest to rid our tent, sleeping bags, and cooler of the sand from our beach campsite. Am I that transparent, I wondered?
I long for life to be neat and tidy. Not just my kitchen, bathrooms, and campsite, but every corner of my spiritual, emotional, and creative life. "Having space to be messy is important for creativity," offered Rebecca. I believe this. I've even written about it on this blog. But lately, as I try and fail to write an ending to my book, I find myself longing for a clear resolution. I'm tempted to believe it's possible to wrap my story up with a nice little bow and call it good, call it finished. But I know better. I know that as soon as I put it in writing something will happen to shock and surprise me and send me off in an entirely different direction than I imagined.
I never saw myself living in Wyoming. Ever. I never fancied myself a camper. And I certainly never imagined I'd be unemployed in my thirties, pursuing a different dream from the one I began twenty years ago. But I'm grateful for all of it. Even the sand stuck to the bottom of our tent because it meant we got to play a game of glow-in-the-dark bocce on the beach as the sun set on a perfect Wyoming evening. Rebecca is right. A messy life is far more exciting and creative. And a happy ending is the one where I go to bed not knowing what tomorrow might bring.