We are entering a season of spiritual homecoming, wishing each other peace, expressing gratitude. And yet, in what can also be rather chaotic weeks bound to produce anxiety and stress, I keep in mind this quote: “Violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.” ~ Parker J. Palmer
I love this quote for all the humility, vulnerability, and compassion that it holds. To me, this violence covers not just the horrors of our physical world, the pain of war, shootings, domestic violence, the abuse in prisons and elsewhere, the struggle of this polarized country - the list goes on. Rather, the pain it speaks of refers to the day-to-day breaking of our all-too-human hearts. The unsatisfactoriness of our experience whispering of our loneliness. The pain we bring about each time we shut ourselves off from family, friends, or colleagues, from opinions and judgments, from a reality we do not like. Here is the suffering when we separate from our beauty, capability, and truth.
It happens. Violence quietly grows in the inner confusion of who we are - you, I, and us. It feeds on the aversion we feel toward our confusion, the harsh desire that our pain just goes away. It builds strength in soldifying its stance and thrives on the thousands of ways that we resist what simply is.
My wish for all of us, my question this season is: Can we be kind to ourselves when our heart feels confused? Can we pause long enough to recognize confusion without pushing it away? Dare we be an affectionate witness for what shows up? Can we allow for the possibility that meeting our aversion with courageous, compassionate interest will help us, wholly and effectively? As individuals, in relationship, as systems and countries? Can we see that we are worthy and lovable just as we are?
What if we can indeed? Could we then tend to our hearts the way a parent might tend to a confused, angry child? Could we then tend to our criticism and reactivity with tenderness? What if instead of fighting with ourselves, distressed by the push and pull of this world, we embrace the longing that can’t find belonging, the fear that is afraid to love? What if we can make our own being safe for ourselves? One breath at a time. Can we, at least, do that?
Tending to ourselves with wise attention, kindness, and wisdom. Attending to the pain of the world and in our hearts. Here is a sense of hope. Because, yes, we can do this. We have a choice. We can choose what to do with our suffering. One breath at a time.
For me, this is a small, small answer for the very big questions and the vast suffering of our current world. Beyond the season, into current affairs. A small, accessible bridge in the vastness of a troubled country. The author Terry Tempest Williams wrote in her book The Open Space of Democracy: “The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up — ever — trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?”
It is in the fissures of our heart that light can pour in. I wish for all of us that this light brings us the resilience and peace-filled relief that we seek. Let us dare to step into the truth of such leadership. This is transformation at its core. We got to do it. Saving us, saving lives. We have to start somewhere.
Hafiz ~ How did the rose ever open its heart
And give to this world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being.
Otherwise we all remain too frightened.
Wishing you this encouragement of light this season. With deep gratitude to all my readers, to all who trusted me with deep conversations, to all who share this path with their beauty, to the open heart of who we are.
Thanks as always for reading this post. Liked it? Please drop me a line and forward to others. And do explore if coaching might be right for you - your transitions, dreams, goals, values, your skills as leader - are you in sync with yourself for 2018? If you are at all curious how the deep-conversation partnerships that I offer with Space Beyond Words coaching might help you, or if you know someone for whom this might be beneficial, book a no-strings-attached conversation or write to me!
ps. This is my last post for 2017. Until 2018 (possibly under a different format). Thank you!