The pain, the suffering, the powerlessness is real and no one I know is immune to it. It goes beyond political parties or ideologies. The reality that the structures within which we live simply do not reflect the dignity of every human being, do not reflect our shared human sacredness and preciousness. Exposed is a raw and gaping wound, throwing all of us off balance. The wound itself is not new. What is new is the in-your-face-ness of it that no one can ignore any longer. The question is what are we going to do about it?
And I am sharing with you what I am committing myself to doing, as inspired by spiritual guide and mentor, James Finley in a video talk he gave this week. He begins by reminding us of our deep purpose:
We are to see the world through eyes that are at once God’s and our own as sacred. And we are to join God in going out to being present to that world in a loving way, that bears witness to its divine stature, to its dignity and its worth. When we see suffering we are also to be moved by the love of God to go out to meet that suffering and touch it in love, so that it might dissolve.
That sounds lovely, perhaps, but many people right now—no matter how they voted or what outcome they sought—are struggling with the chaos of pain and anger and hate that is flowing so freely. It has the effect of unmooring us, much as a wave does when it sweeps our feet from under us. There are lots of suggestions but Finley encourages us to begin with listening to our self:
How do we feel when we are being marginalized? How painful it is when we cannot get someone to understand us, particularly when it is something deep that matters a lot to us. When they keep turning it around or dismissing it, it just drives us crazy. Just as we need to experience empathy—not that the person agrees with us but they can hear us at the feeling level and validate the point we are making because they see the pain we are in. Just beneath the anger is the pain, just beneath the pain is the powerlessness. As soon as the person feels seen, in an accepting way, a dialogue can begin. Start with our self.
What do we need to relax ourselves enough even to hear the other person? In the intensity of pain we don’t know we are being triggered. We are flooded and cannot hear.
When we are hooked or triggered by pain, we have the experience of losing our grounding. We can literally lose touch with our self. It is as if we cannot breathe. Everything else closes in and shuts down. In fear and pain, it is said, our IQ goes down by 50%. It takes tremendous courage and support to stand firm in the midst of the intensity of pain and to not lash out. And our thrashing only causes more pain.
We need to stop and take a deep breath and get regrounded in our own sense of who we are by joining God, who God knows us to be, so that being restored we can return to the work of love in the suffering world. This is how Jesus lived. Jesus spent whole nights in prayer and then he went out looking for people. By being God’s loving presence.
What regrounds you in love? For me, it is being in the presence of unconditional love of another, being in creation and in the practices of meditation, prayer and mindfulness. What people, communities or practices help you know you are loved without measure? If we want to help heal our world, which I believe we all do, then it is imperative we focus on reconnecting ourselves to Love’s source.
The hope of the world lies in people. The more grounded we are in God, the more energized we are to go out to give our self in love and tenderness and service to the world.
I hope you’ll join me.