After dinner with friends one evening, I scanned their library of books in the living room and saw a book entitled Portable Junk. Hmm, I thought. I bent forward to see it closer and realized that the actual title was Portable Jung.

Which says something about my vision.

I preferred Portable Junk. Junk we can carry with us wherever we go. An odd association, I know, but Marie Von Frantz advised: “Enter space and time completely.” Be there fully, regardless of what you think of yourself. And she was a renowned Jungian analyst, after all.

I am very portable and can take myself with me wherever I go. But do I fully inhabit myself?

The poet Whittier knew a lot about that question: “… [D]ismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”

Often, I live my life so quickly and superficially, I’m barely aware of insults to my soul. Here’s a partial list:

–My gottas and shoulds.

–Yelling at Aussie to come on already, stop sniffing and scraping at that ice and get over here!

–Looking at my watch.

–Not listening to someone because I’ve heard it all already.

–What my desk looks like.

–Looking away from a woman holding a Homeless sign on an intersection while the January winds blow and almost carry the sign away.

Some of you may remember Hilaria, a deaf immigrant mother with three sons. Hilaria collapsed while working on a farm a few months ago. A scan showed brain lesions. She was given medication and told she couldn’t work for a while. She needed care and stayed with her sister during the day, notwithstanding the objections of her sister’s landlord. But she had to keep her own apartment for the sake of her three sons, who sleep there, all while waiting for the lesions to go down in size.

Indeed, they did, and I was told at the turn of the new year she was in better spirits, wanting to go back to work as soon as possible.

But last week she lost her sight. At first, Jimena told me, images turned gray and less defined; the next day all she could see were vague outlines of the family around her, and on the day after that she was completely blind.

“She is crazy and afraid,” Jimena said to me. “She can’t hear and the only way she can communicate is by reading lips, and now she can’t see the lips. She only knows you are there when you touch her.”

They took her to a brain specialist, who gave her medicines and said she now really needs surgery. The medicines help restore some vision some days, but the needed brain surgery can’t happen right away due to covid. They want her to do the surgery in one of the Boston hospitals, known for their many specialties, and medical insurance will cover medical costs. But there are no beds in the hospitals.

Lately I’ve been writing about how hard it is to gaze face-to-face at our own humanity, the unique, small, and radiant creatures that we are. Perhaps, in the multiverse world, there are other universes where the sun always shines, flower petals rain on our every step, and love is the answer. That’s not this earth; that’s why it may be hard to wake up in the morning and resolve to once again put on our jeans ad sweaters, our socks and shoes, our human skin, and greet the day.

It helps to hear Henry whining because the bedroom door is still shut. It helps if the sky is a brilliant blue outside and the earth is white under snow. And it helps a lot that the birds are chirping outside, congregating around the birdfeeder, moving it back and forth so that seeds fall on the ground and other birds can scamper there, gathering fuel. They use up that fuel staying alive in those sub-zero nights and need refueling first thing in the morning.

Hilaria can’t see or hear any of that.

I told Jimena that we will find ways to cover her rent so that she won’t worry about her boys, especially the 8-year-old, losing their home. Her sister takes care of her, and Jimena and others bring food for the boys. She’ll have her surgery, she’ll recover, and one day she’ll go home, and that home must be there for her. I put my begging bowl out to you and to the universe to help her do that. Please use the Donate to Immigrant Families button below.

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