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in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Week of Pain...

The imagery on TV of people on the East coast left broken and broken-hearted – calling out for assistance, as if they have been abandoned - has touched my heart, touching that same feeling of abandonment deep within myself somewhere.  And I wonder, how could I live in a contemplative bubble that I am wont to - and close myself off to what is happening in the world, under the guise of “spirituality”?  I can’t.  There’s no either/or.  It’s all one Life living ItSelf out here – just as it is…  Pain and Peace… And maybe it’s really that I want to protect myself from feeling my own pain. That’s what global pain does.  It gets us in touch with our own pain, our own vulnerability, our own helplessness to know what to do for a hurting world, let alone our own pain.  And ironically, the more time I spend contemplatively in Silence, listening within, the more of the world’s pain I seem to feel, as well as peace.

I saw a woman on TV helping in the clean-up effort in her own coastal town – crying – saying – “I want to go home, but there is no home.  It’s gone.”  I turned away and cried silently in my heart.  I can’t imagine the devastation to the psyche that no amount of religious platitudes of non-attachment, or non-dual refrains of, there is no “me” who wants to go home, can assuage.  It is a deep wound of the heart to lose one’s sense of “home” – to *feel* that sense of separation.  I’m sure we have all felt that in one form or another at some time in our lives, whether it was a loss of a physical place, a person, or an emotional/spiritual sense of “home” – that led to a sense of deep “homesickness” of the heart.

And a lot of us know people in our daily lives who need our empathy and our compassion, who have lost their sense of “Home”, feeling abandoned by “God” – adrift in their lives.  It is a deep wound.  I know such people in my family.  And it is a helpless feeling not knowing how to help them.  It’s as if some people’s pain is so deep that it cannot be mended.  It is not a tangible “fix” on a practical level, or seemingly a “spiritual” one either.   It is a deep pain of the psyche.  It is a loss of “Home” - that sense of eternal Beingness – a loss of internal bearings of the Spirit; an insatiable pain that no one and nothing can fill.  I’m sure you’ve met them too.  The ones whose hearts cry the cry of desperation in a dark wilderness of the mind, like sleep deprivation, leaving a deep hollow hunger within.  How do we help these wounded wanderers?

It all trickles down, pain upon pain – or maybe I sound too morbid - too dramatic…  But it’s true.  We are all impacted by the pain of others, by the global pain of a wounded world.  One person’s pain affects us all.  And yet, many times, as I have discovered, we are helpless to end their pain, and so we distract ourselves from their pain, and our own, by shutting out and shutting off; by pretending this is all an illusion.  I have done it too, not wanting to experience their pain.  But their pain ripples out anyway - through humanity.  How can we *not* be affected – how can we not allow ourselves to *feel.*

I once read a story online.  I believe it was a story of an African man who when asked how he was said he was “unwell”, even though he was very well.  The story went that his grandmother was not well, and that when one member of the family was unwell, they were all unwell.  And I knew what he meant.  I experience this myself in my own family.  One family member’s unwellness of being affects the whole family, and we are all “unwell” - we are all in pain, until that person becomes whole again. To some that sounds “co-dependent”, but it is energetic; an energetic vibration felt throughout the whole.   

Their pain *is* my/our pain.  I don’t want it to be.  I want to ignore it, or blame them for their choices that created their own pain…  But there it is.  It’s all a reflection.  And lofty beliefs and words are not helpful, because it cannot be heard, or received by those caught in the deep pain of the unconscious…

There is nothing I can offer
that buffers the pain,
that softens the heartache,
or heals the wounds -

for my sister, my mother, or the world…

And yes, at times I want to hide from their pain,
to not feel their pain,
because it is often too overwhelming…

And because I have my own pain.

And what to do with that as well…

I sit with it and let it speak,
let it cry,
let it take me to the “mothering”
womb of Silence of all Life,
and rest there – waiting;
petitioning the Cosmic energies,
 neither male nor female,
 to intervene;
on behalf of my sister,
my mother,
and a suffering world.

that’s all I can do…

When the “practical”
fails to touch the soul…

We pray…

And that is our offering
of love…

Photo: A piece from another canvas in progress…


  1. Your words echo my own thoughts, the more sensitive I become the more I want to shield my eyes from pain. For me this has been a year of staring pain right in the face, not being able to remove it for a nearest and dearest has been the hardest thing out!

    Yes I have felt spiritual abandonment too, losing ones faith is devastating, can take many years to come to terms with, but can be done!

    Thank you for your insight on the subject of pain, love is the balm that can soothe all painful situations, love is the strongest of all emotions, it will always win-out and heal. x

    1. Thank you Sue... It does seem like facing pain, in one form or another, is up for a lot of us - seeing into the causes of the pain, and beyond the pain - our own and others. And as you say, not being able to remove it for others, or even help them to see through it, is also painful - actually frustrating.

      25 years ago I had what I called a "crisis of faith" and walked away from the religion of my childhood (Christianity) - by choice. It was very freeing; was what was needed in order to discover a new way of being and seeing; redefining "God" - which brought a new sense of intimacy with The Infinite. But it is hard to see that pain of "spiritual abandonment" in others - who feel that deep pain of separation, where no words seem to help. As you say only love... Admittedly, and sadly, sometimes I find it hard to respond lovingly to family members because of all the emotional baggage in the family dynamic. I lose objectivity, and get sucked in by the unconsciousness of others that created the pain in the first place. The challenge for me is always to try to keep my heart open...

  2. Dearest Christine...been a long time since I've visited you Dear Heart! I see that you have blogged today the same pressing 'heart' issue that has affected me this week. I see our country's karma being played out, historical wounds run deep. Perhaps this is the time we've all been waiting for, for the healing to begin. It's a moment of grace I hope we all can take advantage of.
    Sending you waves and waves of Love Dear Spirit Sister!!!
    (my blog Stone Soup)

    1. Helloooo Akasa! Good to "see" you again.:) Yes, in order to know someone else's pain we must have experienced that pain as well, as Nye writes in her beautiful poem that you posted. It is what gives us the grace of compassion to not judge another in their pain or crisis.

      I do not see this event (or any other "natural disaster") as "karma" in the same way that I think you do, i.e. - punishment for wrong doings, or "righting wrongs"(as you expressed in your post.) That still holds an element of judgment, is still remnants from a "patriarchal" belief system that believes that "God"/The Great Mystery/The Universe aims punishment at people or places for their "sins." Karma is such a sticky topic...

      I do see these events as just the natural unfoldings, or cycles, of Life being lived. To say something is "karma", for me, is still a form of judgment in our hearts that they must have done something to deserve this. Although I do believe there are consequences for our choices, it is not punishment, but just the natural flow of cause and effect.

      And yes, it seems true that when a crisis hits most human beings will act from a place of Grace and Compassion. Thankfully. May Love and Grace abound in all our hearts... Blessings to you!

  3. my mind goes to a quote from Trungpa Rinpoche: "to have a strong back and a tender heart", this is the ideal way to relate to the suffering of others. Easier said than done, of course, but this is our training I think. How can we be of help if we are selves are pulled into the undertow of the suffering.

    your post reminds me of this word I'd never heard of before but saw on tumblr (see the internet can be educational!). "Hiraeth (Welsh) homesickness for a home to which you cannot return a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past." How poetic and with a ring of truth, don't you think?

    1. Yes, so true - "strong back, tender heart" - not getting pulled into the vortex, without also being too detached - finding a balance, being empathetic, allowing ourselves to feel and be impacted; not seeing the "other" as separate, but relating to their experience of pain with empathy and compassion because we also feel their pain.

      And I resonate deeply with the Welsh saying! Most definitely think that was what I have felt in the grief of those who have lost everything - that quiet, and not so quiet, desperation of life changing events that means that nothing will ever be the same... Although I certainly hope we can "return" and recognize those lost places of the Spiritual Heart, that were never really lost - the internal place of "Home"... :)

  4. I'm moved by your tender heart. It is combined with a thinking mind, and this balance is important. It is hard not to be overrun by emotion in such times. Maybe it's why we can't and don't all suffer the same: some of us need to have that "strong back" (love that) for those who don't.

    Maybe every crisis, large and small, is about looking for home. Where do we fit? Who are we? We know we are not our houses, but when they are suddenly taken from us, how lost we feel. And even so when we are criticized for something we've done or said, do we have enough of a sense of Self that our inner home is not threatened?

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings here. Not overdramatized at all. These are dramatic times.

    1. Thank you Ruth... I had not really thought of it in that way - that "every crisis is about looking for home." Maybe they are also to get us to see beyond the material home to that true Self-Home that can never be threatened, as you say. Very nice... Crises, especially others', tend to open my heart more and more to that place of Inner Home.

      I know that feeling too of being criticized for something I've said, or done, publicly, whether real or imagined - or not so publicly - but feeling the contraction and the wound, as you have recently felt.

      I think Rumi speaks well to this:
      "Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field. I'll meet you there." Let's hope we can all meet each other there in that field, eventually. :) In the meantime we can help each other dress our wounds :)

  5. This tender missive from you compassionate heart moves my own heart, Christine. As the news unfolds from last week's terrible storms and tragedies related to it, one can't help but feel the pain of what others are going though. I feel very deeply the cries of the world. I don't know how to turn away from that. I like what you said, that "it’s all one life living it's self out there". I think when we feel a sense of homelessness, it's that we are lacking complete connection to who we really are--we are feeling the fragmented self, and those broken pieces hurt. I've been there too. And quite recently had that "homeless" feeling re-emerge after some tough decision making that needing doing the tail end of this summer. While I'm feeling stronger, my inner pieces still feel a bit tender for going through all this... again. ;o) Living abroad and a way from where I originally come from took a long time for me to find a peace with physical as well as inner place. A learning to feel at home anywhere has taken some time. Finding my inner home has taken some time! Finding our way back to our Spirit Heart-Home goes a long way toward feeling more in touch inwardly, and outwardly with the rest of the world. We're all in this together. :o) Thank you for sharing your heart on your sleeve here... ((HUGS))

    1. Thank you dear Tracy for your wonderful sharing as well! I know you feel others' pain too. I don't think we need to or should turn away from "the cries of the world." The cries of others open our hearts, allow us to be vulnerable, willing to look at our own pain more and more. At least that's my experience. But keeping perspective too, seeing the beauty *and* the pain in life, that Life is really just playing itself out here. I am learning this everyday.

      I like your observation that when we feel a sense of "homelessness" it's that we are lacking complete connection to who we really are - feeling the fragmented self. I resonate with that, as it has been my experience too. There is a sense of lack of awareness of the True Self, that as Ruth said can never be threatened - never fragmented.

      Even so, I can imagine that has been quite an adjustment living in another country, away from family, but that has also allowed you to come more deeply into that sense of Inner Home... Such a paradox!

      You know, this just wanted to be written! It's part of my "journey" to be more authentic, more open. So there it was - poured out on paper :) Heart Hugs...


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