hold on

Its that time of year when we all need to hit the reset button, when our internal and external systems have become so jumbled and chaotic that something inside of us knows its time to shut down, and start fresh. I don’t think it’s a fluke that we have ascribed such meaning to the turning of the calendar each January 1, just one week after Christmas. In a culture where the month… and more particularly the last week… of December has gotten swept into such a whirlwind of elusive expectation and fraught with the inability to accept our humanity -self and other- as we are, we are all in desperate need of a coming to our senses. All around me, the people I love are screaming, ‘enough’! All around me the people I love are crying, ‘this doesn’t feel like love”

But, you may say, I thought you’d been listening to the earth – both inside and outside your body – found stillness and healing there? Found Love. I thought December had been different for you?

Yes. And none of that has been taken away from me. It is still there, below the noise, this vast opening in me created by the dissolution of that heavy boulder of shame I carried for so many years for being motherless/feeling unloveable. But, Christmas brought with it the realization that there are other ghosts abiding in (or is it wanting to settle into the emptiness of?) that space.

What’s interesting to me, as I write this, is the awareness that, as I was envisioning that feeling of spaciousness in those days prior to Christmas, what came to me was the image of a great tree whose roots had reached, resiliently, around that great boulder of stone upon which it had been seeded. Suddenly freed of that stone, I wondered if the tree would be able to stand without that anchor, how it would hold onto empty space.

I am holding on, though the hurricane that swept through here on Christmas day was devastating — not just to me but to ones I hold dear to my heart. The storm temporarily abated, we are left surveying the wreckage, and I can only hope that something fresh and green will grow in the places now left exposed and scarred.

I know that this sounds dramatic, but it was that painful to witness, and to feel, that terrible breaking, to be in the midst of that storm when someone I love deeply was breaking, and lashing out from that pain to break others whom I also love deeply. I am left feeling bereft — empty in a different sort of way, a way that feels much more like loss.

Of course, it has made me wake up to the truth in some way, too. The ways I have not wanted to accept. The ways I have wanted to believe that all would be well if just given enough Love. The ways that I have denied illness that causes such pain, desiring/feigning perfection, I suppose, in my own way.

And of course, I wonder what I could have done differently in order to nurture deeper roots in these ones that I love. I wonder about my own fatal flaws, the ways that I was too blinded – by love or by my own pain – the times that I was too broken to respond. I feel such remorse over the ways that I failed – to Love in the ‘right’ (the healing) kind of way, over the things I did not hear or realize, the wisdom I did not have, the maturity I was lacking, the pain inside of myself that I was not able to keep from seeping into the soil of our lives. I am filled with regret, and I have been spending these days reliving, revisiting, reexamining, searching for clues that I missed…. or denied. Days journaling my confessions, stripping away my self-defenses, seeking self-forgiveness. Blaming myself.

But then, in a morning meditation* I hear these words of Grace.

I am recalled to remember that displays of fear are places begging for Love. I am invited to become soft in the face of what feels hard. I am invited to feel my distress and my dread, to see it as love rising up in opposition to the fraught frequency around me.

I am invited to walk toward the fear and despair within my own self and invite the healing power of my own compassionate heart, to hold it in love. I am invited to let the walls of self-protection and defense fall away, (erected around my shame, my fear of judgment and self-recrimination), to be vulnerable to Love. I am invited to step into the unguarded, soft aspect of my own suffering, to push gently at the tender spots, to challenge what is hard with loving awareness, to bless what is uncomfortable.

I am invited ‘to let grace find me, to let it sprout up from the cracks in my feet, to let it pour into me” I hear the words imploring me to not recycle the grief, but to root myself in my own goodness, to stand strong in Hope.

*What I heard inside of Sarah Blondin’s meditation, “Access your inner source of Hope”, on Insight Timer

And I know that this was no accidental plugging in of the headphones for the first time in months. I know that this is exactly what I needed to hear- what I must pour into that empty space inside of me where once that huge, impenetrable boulder, which was my relationship with my mother, resided. I need to flood that space with grace, fill it with the decomposed compost of all that has been hard in my life, now softened by Love, press the nourishment of tenderness, compassion, and grace gently but firmly around these roots. Validate my own being.

So that I can hold on.

Not clinging to pain. Not stuck in suffering. Not holding on to the hardness of grief and regret, guilt and shame, remorse and recrimination.

But holding on to Grace.

Hold on to Peace. Hold on to Comfort. Hold on to Freedom. Hold on to Joy. Hold on to Light. Hold on to Beauty. Hold on to Life. Hold on to Song and Dance and Deep silence.

Only by giving to myself what I did not receive can I heal. And only by healing myself can I make it safe for others, whom I love, to do the same. It is all the same fear, this fear of being unloveable, of being unworthy, of being not good enough.

Hold on, my loves. Hold on to Love. Then Stand tall, and reach once again for the light.



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