Thursday, January 21, 2010

Breaking Open

I need to write these words and I need to have them witnessed. They feel raw, discombo- bulated and important – at least for me. Slowing down this morning, my emotions lean toward the weight of the world – mine, my children’s, the children of Haiti and yours.

Monday, I sat with a young woman who is fighting for her life. She is not physically ill or destitute – most would say she lives a privileged life – and she would not disagree. Still… she struggles. This week, her battle for self-awareness was set against the devastation and death in Haiti… her search for personal peace transposed against a backdrop of events tangibly bigger than her own breaking heart. It is surreal and she paused to decide if she is worth it – to consider if she matters enough to fight for her own life without appearing selfish.

Tuesday, I engaged in a conversation with graduates of a Christian institution. The topic: What makes the institution unique? (i.e. Why go there, donate your money or invest your time?) One young man articulated before he went to school there, he had a 'Save the World' mentality that felt huge and impossible to accomplish. Now he sees things on a smaller scale – one individual - one conversation at a time. This feels doable. This feels like the Gospel to him – and I would not disagree. Can the world be saved on this scale?

As I write, dozens of other faces in this short week flash through my mind. Wednesday’s encounter with a woman who has heart-warming dreams that fill her to near bursting, but has a hard time seeing how those dreams can impact the outer world. Monday’s witness of prisoners in orange jump suits, some angry and entitled – others grateful to be alive and willing to transform one day at a time – some both. The only thing separating them and me is the color of their suit and my ability to walk out the steel-encased doors. Yesterday, I facilitated (& participated in) a recovery group where I am awed by the vast array of socio-economic, cultural, and spiritual representations. All an integral part of the world. All unique individuals. All just like me.

So, I sit here this morning snuggled with my golden cat, slowing down long enough to consider these things. I am near overwhelmed with sadness for my own broken heart and filled with hope for change in the world. Things seem to be shifting – or perhaps it’s just me? I am reminded of Mother Teresa’s prayer for her heart to break wide open so the whole world may fall in. Today, the world is right here with me. In this moment, I am grateful and awash in a sea of other emotions.

Is it enough to care for ourselves when others are dying? Do we not each die a bit every day? Can a breath of life in my body reach across the world? Does it have to go that far or is it enough to touch someone across the room, or closer yet to fill my own lungs?

by the sea © lucy 1.09.10

15 comments:

The Pollinatrix said...

Goodness, this is a powerful post.

First I'd like to share this quote posted today by my blogging friend Dan at A Mindful Heart:

"Don't move. Just die over and over. Don't anticipate. Nothing can save you now, because this is your last moment. Not even enlightenment will help you now, because you have no other moments. With no future, be true to yourself—and don't move."

—Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

I believe one individual, one conversation at at a time is the ONLY way the world can be saved. Because it is only true relationship that can make true change.

I have always resonated with the imagery of "breaking open." I think it's the ultimate thing we can do for healing.

Maureen said...

I'm reminded of a line from Rumi "So your heart contracts and expands. . . ."

We open one door and shut another. Awareness, if we're lucky, comes each time. Sometimes we have to get in the rhythm of it -- the opening the closing the opening the closing -- before we can begin to care about ourselves, and only after for another. We have to care for ourselves to care for others.

There are so many ways of caring. I think each of us has a heart big enough that we can learn to open it across a room and across the world. We just have understand its rhythm, accept that it has to contract and expand to keep beating. When it contracts, we have to give it the care it needs, let it rest, restore itself; then, when it's ready to expand, we have to let if fill.

One heart at a time. Beginning with our own.

lucy said...

polli - thanks for sharing the quote from dan's place. i need to pop over there for a visit.

yes, one conversation at a time...

maureen - ...and one heart at a time. beginning with our own. beautiful!

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

You speak of the human condition, i think. When I nursed I felt like this all the time. It ate me alive ~ the oppressive helplessness that comes with witnessing impenetrable, unrelenting suffering of another creature. Over time the grief and loss and suffering pooled. I become the person drowning and the person watching, simultaneously.

Jennifer said...

I have been reading your blog for a little while now. I use to comment quickly, but now I'm taking more time to know the blog a bit better.

This post is something I feel a kindred spirit for myself. I have struggled with having the awareness of suffering among others and then going about my own life. I suppose the reality is that one day I will die too. I don't know if I will suffer to the extremes I've seen or read of others, but there will be suffering it is inevitable. I use to protect myself in ignorance, then I shifted to knowing, but knowing without wisdom. Then...which has been most recently, I have come to realize, I am small and only one. I can do what my one small self can do. Don't be trapped by the magnitude of the knowledge, each person is as I am, ONE. So, know what I can know and do what I can do and then trust it, that there is another ONE doing it too.

I enjoy your blog thank you for allowing my comment. I come to you via Polli's blog - The Whole Blooming World. She is a connector I believe. A great example of one to the other connecting to another.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

A beautiful voice speaking here and asking questions that are meaningful to savor. The weightiness of life does not have to mean burdensome (and I don't think you're necessarily saying that) it can mean full and richly rewarding, overflowing. Your breath is my breath and my breath that of friends, loved ones, and yes, even those who would call us enemies. There's no denying we all breathe the same air and feel the weight of life ebbing away each day. xoxo

Karen said...

Absolutely yes. Every single human being is worth it and (I believe) adored by Source. We all matter every single moment of our lives. The best we can do is our best--helping where we can, but never allowing ourselves to be crushed under the weight of the world. You cannot help ANYONE if you are broken!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Lucy! As someone whose Truth was "Worth It" I now know this to be a Universal Truth. Also, I have discovered we all share the same Universay Lies. The first challenge is to embrace our personal Truth....only then will I see it in all others, all other parts of the Big Whole....the whole Course in Miracles concept of Atonement.....At-One-Ment. Same pain, Same Joy, Same Love, Same Source. Same Breath. How wonderful is THAT! Love, Pamela

kate i said...

I understand these feelings of overwhelm and the magnitude of deep emotion that is coming up at this time.

I've found for myself that the key is being mindful of keeping a state of balance within..especially important before I can reach out to assist others. We all have different ways of maintaining balance and mine is through the breath and an awareness of appreciation and gratitude for the small things in my life.

Cracking open is a good thing. It can be painful but then so is birth and in some ways it feels to me that the planet is, individually and globally, going through the birth process right now.

Thank you Kayce, for speaking from such a big, wide open heart.

kigen said...

"A woman who has heart-warming dreams that fill her to near bursting, but has a hard time seeing how those dreams can impact the outer world."

I am no more important than a thistle. I enjoy being a thistle. Every thistle is unique. I know a small, lovely daisy where you are sitting, a big sunflower over there entirely genuine, a scampering rabbit sitting on a log down the road, and around the corner, a ladybug heading this way. What great friends I have too!

Barbara said...

Your post, as deep and wide as the human experience, reminded me of the line from the OT -- I cannot give you the chapter and verse, sorry -- about asking God to exchange our hearts of stone for one of flesh. A stone will crack and shatter eventually from the forces acting upon it. A fleshy heart can expand to embrace what crosses its path. It can also be torn, as we all know, but it is also capable of healing, unlike a stone. Peace, lucy.

Tess said...

I did respond to this yesterday. I tried to say something wise, but it has disappeared into cyberspace and I won't try to reconstruct it.

Wonderful, beautiful post.

lucy said...

tinkerbell - it is a surreal place to be both "the person drowning and the person watching, simultaneously." who will pull whom in or out?

jennifer - thank you so much for offering this comment. i appreciate your thoughtfulness of perusing for awhile before jumping in. i just read your lovely post on "love" and found there a kindred spirit, also. the verse of which you write is one that greeted me in full force a few years ago and has been firmly by my side ever since. i hope you will visit again...

SS - lovely words from you here. i am so comforted to know that you know! xoxo

"There's no denying we all breathe the same air and feel the weight of life ebbing away each day."

lucy said...

karen - words spoken by a wise woman. yes, we are indeed "worth it"!

pamela - "Same pain, Same Joy, Same Love, Same Source. Same Breath." i agree that's pretty miraculous stuff!! worth it worth it worth it!!!! xoxo


kate - i love what you say about finding balance in the small things. i have found such comfort in the last couple of days just by sitting still and feeling the soft fur of my kitty and his purr vibrating against my still hand.

lucy said...

kigen - ...and a wonderful thistle you are!

barbara - your sharing of that verse and your own words spoke deeply to me. yes, flesh can heal unlike shattered stone. when i was on my pilgrimage (and since, too) the words "let go of the stone in your heart" have followed me. i will need to ponder them some more now. blessings to you, friend.

tess -- aargghhh - the wondrous world of cyberspace! thanks for popping back in. xo