A Shabbas Table: Lessons from a Queen

Good Shabbas all and a blessed Sabbath tomarrow. Here i am at this little seaside library writing. Its so strange not having internet access at home. Of course the beach access is a nice compensator there though : )

Things are still strange and in transition. But the nature here is lovely, been seeing all sorts of water birds, some gorgeous sunsets, the weathers even been nice for October. So i'm spending alot of time place hunting, but also alot in nature too...and that makes it worth it.

Not much to say this week, its kind of hard for me to write in a strange place and i didnt prewrite anything this time before going out to the library. What i do have though are some qoutes though that i typed out over the week as i've been going through books before giving them away. The "queen qoute" i based the title on here on is among them and has been in my head a lot. Anyway, the qoutes....

The first one is from "Mariette in Ecstasy" by Ron Hanson:

"We are like the tides here. We come and go. We don't hurry we don't worry; we try not to wrestle too much with our inner torments and petty irritations."

The second and thrid are from "The Abbey Up the Hill: A Year in the Life of a Monastic Day Tripper" by Carol Bonomo:

"Humility of a gift of grace, regardless of the steps we ordinary people may take. It is not humiliation, although that may be one of the more unfortunate ways we arrive there. The author of AA's twelve steps writes,"We heard story after story of how humility had brought strengh out of weakeness." That is a modern day echo, not only of Benedict, but of the great apostle Paul, whose words still comfiort me on bad days: "And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficent for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness' ". 2 Corinthians 12:9.

AA founder Bill W goes onto say:

"In every case, pain has been the price of admission into a new life. But this admission price had purchased more than we excpected. It brought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to be a healer of pain. We begin to fear pain less, and desire humility more than ever."

And the last is from "Tales of Passion Tales of Woe" by Sandra Gulland:

"Dr Martinet tapped his pencil on the desk. "Madam Bonbaparte, during the terror you were held, were you not?"

In prison, he meant. "Yes, I was in the Carmes for 4 months."

The doctor leaned forward, restung his elbows on the desk. "I must tell you, I have had a significant number of patients who were likewise 'held' during the

Terror--women who likewise seem to be suffering from an inexplicable infertility."

I felt a tighteneing in my chest. "It's true that the flux became unpredictable during that time."
"The effect of shock on the female consitiution is proven to be disruptive. If nourishment is lacking, the air oppresssive, exercise resticted--anyone of these factors is known to effect a woman's capacity to be that which Nature intended her to be, a mother."

The first qoutes stand alone but the last one drew me through more than meets the eye maybe. The thing is, Josephine Bonaparte lived with chronic pain and i'd never known that till recently. It wasnt only her infertility, she had problems with her spine flaring up alot, and quite painfully. She dreaded most of all getting into a carriage as it almost always flared it up (boy is that familiar, in my own life i avoid even those little dips and bumps in the road like the bleepin plague becuase of what they do to those of us who have unstable spines....can't even imagine what the roads were like back then). Her chronic pain may have even been similar to my own and many others out there with various serious spinal injuries and fibromyalgia, who knows. What we do know is that the doctors of the time didnt have a clue how to heal whatever it was she suffered with....which is sure the case for some of us and our conditions today too.

Something about a key historical figure like that living with chronic pain just really struck me. Pain was a very deep part of her day to day life-- its not what's popuarized in the history books but its all over her actual journals and letters. And yet through all that she still had such an impacting life. Not through force of will, she wasnt even that strong a personality in that sense, but through a gentle and supportive presence (she was Bonaparte's emotional center/rock)...even through the pain. And it was more than pain she lived with it was also injustice...her years in prison, and even the prison of her medical treatments really: what stood out from the book was when she was at Dr. Martinet's fertility clinic and he had left a balcony in poor repair which she stepped out onto innocently enough and it collapsed tossing her to the ground, greatly worsening her conditions and her chronic pain. He gave her painful and dramatic types of treatments for her fall, the more dramatic and painful and the treatment the better was his view since he was capitolizing on her suffering by bragging/writing about his "ingenious"treatments of her. It was just horrible. And yet she forgave, and her life flowed on and impacted.

Its funny, Josaphine Bonaparte isnt the sort who comes to mind for an angel in the home but now im not so sure. Seems angels are everywhere if we look. Though i'm no fan of the terrors of the French Revolution, i do find myself inspired by her. Life is oceanic. Even when there is pain and suferring we are held somehow and the wave goes up and down and our life is lived in those little waves, those little moments woven throughout. Think i really need to remember that.

Well, a very Good Shabbas and Blessed Shabbat All: )

(Image of Josaphine Bonaparte, from

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