Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Therapeutic companionship


Beyond all the theories, conflicting approaches, interventions, and strategies, for me therapeutic companionship is a process of bearing witness to the life of another as they come to befriend themselves in a way that was not possible until now. To excavate meaning where there was none, to find purpose in the core of the purposelessness, breath where there was no breath to be found.

This befriending is not ordinary or passive, not always flowing and peaceful. It is fierce, on fire, and an act of revolution. It is the light shining out of the core of the dark night, the outrageousness of the human spirit, and the basic goodness of the human heart.

To walk into the dark wood, into the disorienting and hopeless places, without knowing where the journey will lead, if we will make it out in one piece, or where new life will be found. Making sense together of where they have been, who they see themselves to be, and what they are longing to become. To illuminate what matters most to them and cradle it in our shared heart. To help them gather the pieces of the broken world.

To proclaim their experience as utterly valid, their feelings as ragingly honorable and intelligent, that they are worthy of love as they are. That despite the pain of the present, the traumas of the past, and the fragmented dreams of the future we will dare to reclaim the aspects, parts, and pieces of the soul that have been turned from, now longing to return home.

We will assert together that pain is not pathology, that they need not be "cured" in order for us to stay near, that their suffering is authentic, that their hopelessness well-founded. Even their doubt is holy when allowed into the inner sanctum. What they are is not some project to be improved, but a mystery to be lived.

And then, from that foundation of companionship and bearing witness to the sacredness of what a human being truly is—including the profound grief, despair, and moments of great joy—we are able to turn together into the unknown and bow before its immensity.

It is awesome, in the truest sense of the word, to bear witness in this way. To fall to the ground in the beholding of God in action, of the unstoppable wild bravery of the human spirit, and the relentlessness and creativity of love as it makes its way into form.


Photo credit: James Estrin/ New York Times

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

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