One of my friends is going through a difficult divorce and another looks like she is about to. Yet another friend is in bankruptcy while yet another feels like that’s going to be her only option. One friend just lost a son. One is helping a community still reeling from violence against several children.
As yet one more friend often says: “Oh Holy Hell.”
With a thousand friends and a thousand possible troubles, it’s bad out there for someone pretty much any day of the week, any week of the month and any month of the year.
So as we come upon a holiday season where it so often feels wrong to be anything but merry, it seemed time to once gain put it out there that all this challenge, pain and outright heartbreak are not for nothing, if…
As both a contemporary shaman and a mystic, the why’s of life often compete for two types of stories. On the one hand, I can make up stories about “why” this or that is happening. These stories sound really good and sometimes make me feel better—even if there is no reality to them. On the other hand, I can see the wisdom in taking the “no-story” story approach—there being no why because life is really just an illusion.
But today I’m not talking about either of those kinds of stories. I’m talking about something that speaks to the most profound aspects of being human. I’m talking about the why’s that drive us, and genuinely console us, and give us hope. These stories are the ones that come from the depths of our soul.
A Long Stretch Of Sorrows
I spent the majority of my early life in emotional turmoil and suffering. I looked forward to growing up and getting the hell out of Dodge. Surprise, surprise (at least to me), that didn’t ending up solving very much.
In a nutshell: Childhood was tragic. Young adulthood baffling. First marriage and motherhood a colossal chorus of chaos. A rough divorce and single motherhood added icing on the cake.
Capable of deep feeling every step of the way, it was pain-on-pain more often than not. I don’t say this to gain sympathy, only to set the stage: I spent more weeks wanting to die than wanting to live. Really.
But why? Was all that hell really necessary? What a waste of years. Except… Except… Except... It wasn’t.
Consider The Lowly Piece Of Sea Glass
The metaphor of sea glass is not new or unique. But neither is it trite. At least not to the individual piece of glass that got tumbled in salt water and sand, over and over and over again. To the broken glass, the tumbling added insult to injury.
It wasn’t just a metaphor. It was real. It was long. It was rough. It didn’t know what it was going to become. It only knew crash after crash after crash. Merciless and meaningless.
I, of course, have the benefit of seeing the beautiful end result. Not broken glass… sea glass! Wonderful transformation! Brilliant at-the-end-of-it-all glory!
I can know the magnificent softness of something that was once so sharp and hard. I can see the remarkable history and revel in the beauty of strength. After all, sea glass is a lot harder to break than new glass.
And For My Own Life, I See The Same Thing
I know the pain of divorce… and I know the amazing joy of falling into a whole new kind of love the second time around.
I know the insecurity of wondering why I was so unwanted by the lovers of my early life… and I know the beauty of finally falling in love with myself—all other’s opinions be dammed!
I know the feeling of not knowing how to pay the bills… and the comfort of writing check after check from a very healthy bank account.
Worse than any of this, I know the pain of burying a beloved “baby” brother… and then the joy of giving his name to a baby I have birthed.
I’ve known Holy Hell… and then after, on the other side, just Holy. And I have learned, truly, that it was not for nothing, if…
“IF What?” I Can Hear You Asking
If you make it all mean something. Something real. Something deep. Something good.
I hated the tumbling of my early and mid-life, no doubt. But I love that I am now soft and safe in a way I never was. Soul soft. Soul safe. That is meaningful to me.
Knowing pain, I can feel the pain of others and care with a genuine heart. That’s real to me.
It's true that I am incapable of taking a loved one for granted, because I know how quickly a loss could bring me to my knees. That’s deep to me.
Intending my life’s work contribute to the betterment of the world, I expect that whomever I come in contact with may be more soul-whole for it. That’s “good” to me.
Of course, my meaning and your meaning may not be the same. That’s okay. Meaning is one of the very most personal things we will ever decide upon—as “Be Who You Are” as it gets.
If it is real to you, deep for you and good with you—you’ll hear me cheering you on.
But Back To My Thousand Friends With A Thousand Possible Troubles
Back to that divorce. That bankruptcy. That loss of a child. That tumbling piece of sea glass. These friends may not be able to find their happy endings right now. They only know the tumbling. The pain. The fear and frustration.
To them, this much I can say: I have yet to meet anyone who kept his or her “if” alive—even when they could not identify or fulfill it in any direct way—who didn’t first survive… and then go on to thrive. Just knowing that deep and true and good were somehow important, they found their way.
If This Is Speaking To You, Let Me Speak More Directly
It’s not for nothing, all this pain. I swear to the Divine it is not. You are not an accidental tourist here on planet earth. You are not without hope, or direction, even if you feel hugely disconcerted and tumbled about.
I don’t know why you need to go through what you are going through, but I know that IF you grab your IF, if you hang-like-hell on to some semblance of deep and true and good, eventually order returns. Because that is the nature of things, and nature is all that we are.
Try to forget about time, how long it will take. And as much as you can, stop thinking about how long it has been. Listen to me, closely, for I speak for countless others who have been where you are: This pain and suffering and trouble does end.
Beauty comes. Really, really, it does. With your IF intact, you will find a more glorious day than any you had before, or maybe ever imagined.
I swear this by all I know that is good and deep and true.
If This Is Not Speaking To You Right Now, Let Me Suggest This
Your wellbeing is needed in the lives of others. Share your deep and true and good. Share yourself. The sea glass that is picked up out of the tumbling, even for a moment, is forever grateful for the smallest bit of rest.
If you don’t know how to help, learn how. Or simply pass this on. Because it’s that kind of day, or week, or month, or year, for someone you know.
Happy Holy Days To All