Support. According to Merriam Webster – to bear, uphold, defend, assist, help, comfort. It’s also a noun – a brace, buttress, reinforcement, underpinning. It comes from 14th century Latin – subportare – “to carry from below”.

To carry from below. How wonderful. How mysterious. As if whatever – or whomever – is doing the carrying is hidden from the receiver’s view – in the shadows, invisible, not recognized.

This intrigues me. I’m intrigued by the idea that invisible support is buoying me up right in this moment. And it is. Invisible hands are holding us up – all of us – all the time – even when we’re not aware of them. The law of gravity is tethering us to the earth. The power of the sun is creating life, so we might be nourished. Animals (including you and me) are breathing out carbon dioxide to feed the trees, and the trees are returning the favor by offering oxygen back to us…The list of miracles supporting us is, literally, endless.

Most of the time we live our lives without thinking about these invisible supports. And despite our lack of gratitude, they keep supporting us anyway. The earth keeps holding us up; the sun keeps growing our food; oxygen keeps filling our lungs. The invisible supporters from below (and above and all around us) don’t seem to require our acknowledgement to keep on being so generous. Nor does it appear that we need to acknowledge them in order to benefit from their many contributions.

When we do see them, though – what a glorious gift.

Last week I had a phone call out of the blue from an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in 40 years. Her Dad passed away recently, and I’d sent a note to express my condolences. She called to connect, to say thank you. Hearing her – the first time since I was 16 – was shocking. Shockingly wonderful. The musicality of her laugh, the way she pronounced my name, the timber of her voice all felt so reassuringly familiar. In an instant, invisible hands of the universe revealed themselves. I’d been moving through my life for 40 years unaware that I was still deeply connected to this warm and wonderful woman. I’d forgotten our easy banter, our shared childhood love of Barbie and Ken, forgotten that we were forever tethered together by years of torturous tennis classes and delightful mountain hikes, first forays into love and liquor. I’d been functioning under the misapprehension that I was separate, alone in a disconnected world. But within just a few moments – a few laughs – I was reminded that, of course, we were never disconnected, and that I’ve been supported all along. The web of this one friendship – and how many others? – has been carrying me, as if from below, all these years.

Invisible hands of support. They’re too many to count. We forget them, ignore them, take them for granted. They don’t seem to mind, thank goodness. They carry us along anyway, obligingly. Living in the cells of our bodies. Helping to make us who we are. Then, occasionally, they reveal themselves in all their miraculous wonder. We “wake up” for a time to the knowing that we are always supported.

It seems almost inevitable that we humans return to the forgetting. Perhaps if we were awake to the miracles all the time, the pure bliss of being held would overwhelm us. Like babies, cradled in the Great Mother’s arms, we might surrender completely to the sensation of love and Grace, with no need to struggle or strive. Would it be so awful to feel truly held and loved? To know that we are carried from below?

I, for one, would like to endeavor to take that risk a little more often. To stay awake and aware. To see and feel the innumerable supports and to say, “Thank you, invisible hands. Thank you for holding me up.”