For a number of years I chose suffering as a way of life. I mistakenly thought that, in order to be a good healer, a good minister, fair-minded and available to all, I had to take on a lot of pain and grief. A lot. I walked through this world as a sponge, soaking up everyone’s suffering. I thought that I needed to be poor in order to serve well a God I believe in and trust. I thought that becoming ill, suffering misfortune, being endlessly forgiving and constantly shoring up the lives of everyone who needed shoring up was simply part of the drill.
I did not think that it was possible
to find peace
to be content
to make a decent living
to be respected, honored and heard in love
to wake up delighted and not filled with dread
I had become so used to settling for so little in life that I had become the very worst thing one can become: sceptical (I use the British spelling because I like it).
The way the world felt, the way my life felt, with calamity and chaos playing out in all directions; upheaval, disconnection, dis-ease holding a starring role in my daily existence, I began to think that this was a less than desirable place to be, that maybe the other world would come as a kind of relief. Death can easily become the norm, a compelling option for an exhausted hospice chaplain. What’s worse still, when I expressed this to someone I loved, his response was essentially, I will not be held responsible for your happiness.
But of course. We carry trauma from our difficult childhoods and, when unresolved, spend our adult days giving that away in the form of shitty behavior toward others. We are tethered to and slaves of our devices and our addictions. We slip into a trough in this life and ride it out until we take that last gasp of the air that fills this world and depart for someplace that sounds much nicer, from what I can glean from my friends who have died.
I’m still here, you may have noticed.
As is so often the case with any re-routed trajectory in life, I had had enough. I reached the point of saturation; I was tired of being tired but not so tired that I truly wanted to sleep the big sleep. Tired enough that I was ready to make some changes. I spent time walking these dirt roads alone, praying, meditating, Reiki-ing the heck out of myself. I talked with my kids, the best healers I know. I looked at art, wrote stuff down, ate lots of fruit.
I looked around for the good teachers in my midst. I could tell who they were by the way they looked me right in the eyes, were not in a hurry and always liberal with their warm and genuine hugs.
I cleared space, did the difficult work of The Ending. Closed chapters, gave away a ton of stuff, relocated myself away from toxic spaces and told the Great Universe I was ready for better to arrive (the Great Universe already knew this, but it was my job to say it anyway).
I took responsibility for my own well-being. Instead of seeking out others to poke or prod or listen to me, diagnose and prescribe, I taught myself how to heal myself.
Good things came, good people, honest and real people, ones whose feet are on terra firma and whose hearts face True North. Vocation and purpose became clearer; I am doing everything every day that I love with all of my heart. The sun became warmer, the lakes cooler; my nights are filled with deep and replenishing sleep. Heck, I even got a new car, a white one, my chariot.
No one congratulates us on our deathbed for having thrown away our lives, given away our joy, sucked up all the pain in our midst, settled for anything less than a truly satisfying life. It is, in large part, about a willingness to own all of one’s own-ness. To heal brokenness, to dispose of the worn-out tape playing over and over about who we are and what we do or don’t deserve in this life.
I am whole, present and strong and on any given day you can come to me to spit shine your aura or tie-dye your chakras. I will do my best to channel the light of this world in your direction. I am learning to do this without giving away my peace or the entire bandwidth of divine love and grace flowing through me. I will share, though, I promise. I got this, and you do, too.
Happy, happy, happy summer days.