Temperance

My mother told me that our cortisol spikes in the morning. Ooooooohhhhh I replied. My palm flew to smack my forehead. DUHHHH.

Cortisol regulates our stress responses. People in lower socio-economic situations, which is a long way of saying broke people, have higher spikes of cortisol in the morning.

In the morning my brain often races to catch up on the narratives of my life. Before I get out of bed they come to me in a rush- who I am and where I’m at in my money story, my gender story, my love story, my purpose story. I go from being a person in a blanket to a person in a very strange epic. Often I catch myself frozen in these thoughts. I’ll find I’ve been awake for an hour, still lying down, thinking hard about next steps and past disappointments.

My cat interrupts. My cat wants to be pet in a specific way. She does not want much pressure, nor does she want to be held, or her movements controlled at all. She wants my hand held up and responsive to her, and she would like me to stay lying still otherwise. I also hate my movements controlled, so through a trick of oppositionality, I finally get up for coffee.

Outside the backyard is overgrown and resplendent in the summer sun. The weeds flourish, the grass is too high, stray cats hide in the bushes and the squirrels click their warnings to each other. I sit in the backyard with my rosary and coffee. The epic pulls at me- I am not ok, I am unfinished, I am broke, I am single, I am too old for this, and I have to make things right. And I begin with an Our Mother, which reminds me I have my daily bread, and I have trespassed against others as they have trespassed against me, and here we are, the grass growing high towards the sun. And then I move onto Hail Mary’s, and please pray for me Mary now and at the hour of my death, and it sure can feel much like that hour when the cortisol spikes. At every big bead I say the Prayer of St. Francis and the Our Mother and I make an ask, and so now She knows the 5 things I need. I have to tell you She is very good at making those things happen for me.

I make my way around the beads, and the coffee is gone, and I’ve watched some ants and bees be busy through the process, and my cat lays in the grass closing her eyes slowly at me. Now the cortisol has calmed down. The epic continues, and what a crazy epic it’s turned into, but today I have my daily bread, and I know I’ll be forgiven just as I forgive, and I know surprises are sometimes shitty but often wonderful. The garden grows, year after year, and the gardener pulls what she wants and leaves to grow towards the sun what she’d like to grow.

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