Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A crucible of love

How willing are we to go deeply into the lived experience of those we love, of those we care for, of those who reach out to us for help? Can we step into the dark empty abyss of a depressed friend, a grieving mother, an abandoned lover, an elderly man filled with tears, finished with this life, calling out for his long-departed wife as his only hope?

It is so natural for us to want to help others, especially when they are suffering, hurt, confused, or experiencing profound sadness. But can we resist the temptation to fix them, to "heal" them, to "transform" them, and to remove them from the intelligence of their actual experience and the integration it is offering? With space and kindness as our guides, let us stay close to the "other" and to no longer project our unlived lives upon them, urgently acting to remove the darkness so that we do not have to meet our own shadows within.

In times of confusion and despair, what our sweet ones want more than anything is to have their experience validated, to finally be met, to be recognized as an authentic person in their own right – not as someone who is “depressed” or “anxious” or who has fallen apart, or is insane. We can hold their hand and go directly into the darkness with them, willing for our hearts to break in the face of their suffering, which is ultimately our own.

We can allow the other to matter, to cry deeply with them, to join them in their sadness. We can get on their side doing whatever we can so that when they look into our eyes they feel us fully with them. Perhaps for the first time, they are actually seen by another human being, the intensity is held and contained, and a holding space is provided for the entirety of their experience to come to rest. They know we will stay with them, journeying even into their deepest pain and into the most shameful, darkest recesses of their heart and mind. We will not abandon them – or ourselves.

And in this meeting, we are able to weave a sanctuary together, a crucible in which love can move through and reveal wholeness, showing us both how precious this rare human opportunity really is. The path of the heart may always ask everything of us, but somehow we are willing to give that – and more – for we are wired for love; and to do whatever we possibly can to help beings everywhere. 

Artist unknown