"The experience of the Self, (your Authentic nature), is always a defeat for the ego."
That there is 'suffering in Haiti' would be the understatement of 2010! Ravaging signs of the Haitian earthquake abound, as do touching stories about community, collaboration, caring. In the wake of such disaster, it is easy to overlook the 'inner earthquakes,' or tremors, that those in our midst may be experiencing. They, too, deserve to know that they are neither overlooked nor unloved.
An Inner Haiti. A few days ago, I received a message from one of my favorite HP readers known to us as "little brother." His words touched my heart, when he wrote:
"...I'm lost. I've spent the last 23 years being Sgt. Mike and Dad. Now, nobody needs me anymore. I feel so isolated. My wife loves me but I don't know why. I've just got to remember that she does and try to get through till tomorrow..."
How about you? I've 'been there.' One of the times of our greatest suffering is when we do not know where our contribution is needed, or how to get our offering into greater use. The deepest valley is when we doubt that we have a contribution to make. In the past week, I've heard four or five individuals confess that, even though they've sent money to Haiti for relief, the act seems insufficient. There's nothing like the 'hands on' experience of extending ourselves to those reaching back. We need connection. Like "little brother," we yearn to experience the positive and powerful response to which we, most genuinely are, getting better at receiving signs of love, support and caring. As expressed in James Cameron's blockbuster, Golden Globe Award winner, "Avatar," the Navi communication "I see you," brings with it a big punch. When we are truly seen, and 'see,' we re-member, coming back into our rightful place as beings that are all One. No small wonder that with each rescue of earthquake victims, against all odds, our chord to one another vibrates.
Not Forgotten. Feeling lost is the experience of neither being seen, nor seeing. This is why President Obama's words to the Haitian people are so poignant: "...in your hour of need...you are not forgotten...Help is on the way..." And, yet, when we 'cast our eyes upward' in our hour of need, either collectively or individually, and feel 'forgotten,' what can we do to discover our way back home? Let me offer some pointers:
1. First, we can put our situation in perspective. Anguish always precedes the next developmental leap. This does not mean turn our back on difficulty, however. As surely as the Haitians need our 'love in action,' as Mother Teresa put it, we need to turn that love in our own direction, as well, when we are hurting. When we feel lost, as I did, too during periods of grief, divorce, relocation, career shifts, and health challenges, meeting the edge that separates the familiar from the unfamiliar, can seduce us into the belief that we will be permanently fixed and fixated in this purgatory, with no escape hatch. The plot thickens when we forget this is all part of our present growth process. My friend, Lizette, puts it this way: "Must I give up who I've been, that I like? The lousy parts of me, I let go more easily. I'm stuck. I'm lost. How naked must I be? I'm rushing to find direction and only get more lost in the forest."
From the beginning of time, we meet the edge of change with ambivalence. One part yearns for renewing direction, like "little brother," a turning point to deeper meaning, interconnectedness, and delight. The other turns away, begging, like Lot's wife, to look back, return to the old, afraid of whatever demons that might pop out of this Pandora's Box. What we miss at this juncture is the realization, as Goethe put it:
"...that the moment you say 'yes...then helpmates arrive from the most
He reminds us "little brothers and sisters" that there's a bigger show going on than we can fathom, that we're connected to something larger and redemptive, that, like the situation in Haiti, 'help is on the way.'
Did you know the following? The words come from an extraordinary leader by the name of Maura O'Neill, who's working with Raj Shah, the man... "... nominated to be head of US AID, the agency to assist war torn and less developed nations with humanitarian assistance..." An excerpt continues: "...One minute after the earthquake was recorded the Coast Guard turned around four of its cutters paroling south of Haiti and went back to start helping..."
Before evidence or belief in help, we can remember, as Mary Catherine Bateson puts it:
"Our lives are full of surprises, ... we have learned from interruptions, and improvised from the material that comes to hand, reshaping and reinterpreting..."
Let me suggest the following for these times of surprises and interruptions:
2. Give the process time. Like Lizette, the more we hurry to change, the greater the estrangement from wisdom.
3. Move within. Whatever outer circumstances you face, they are neither the cause nor remedy for finding your way. Consider meditation. Rumi puts it this way:
"Keep walking, thou there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances.
That's not for human beings.
Move within, but don't move the way
That fear makes you move."
4. Stand still. According to the elders of one P.N.W. tribe, when lost, we must:
"What do you do when you're lost? Stand still. Let the forest find you."
5. Record what you discover. Let it seed new life.
6. Share how you'd like to grow this year with a 2010 'growth' buddy.
7. Start noticing what happens through collaboration. Here's a beautiful example from last month:
Just a few weeks ago, on December 7th, 2009, 156 countries chose to respond, in one moment around the world to Starbuck's Love Project. The purpose of which was to raise awareness around the world, through song, about the Aids epidemic in Africa.
As a response to requests, near the end of January, my new personal interactive blog, and website will be up and running. Join me in wishing this soon-to-be newborn all good things! For personal contact, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear from you here. Thanks for passing the above along to your contacts! Blessings your way, Cara
Follow Dr. Cara Barker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrCaraBarker