Sometimes when I'm reading something or listening to a really great podcast, I have an epiphany-like experience of utter clarity... One of those moments where the fragility and beauty of existence comes into such sharp focus, that I weep or gasp audibly.
I tend to want to wrap these moments up immediately and give them as gifts to everyone I know, which, as it turns out, is actually really difficult. So try and bear with me here... I'm going to see if I can share this shimmering moment with you.
I recently came across the Jewish teaching of tikkun olam while reading Krista Tippett's book, Becoming Wise. Someone she'd interviewed shared about hearing this story as a child... of the world's creation in perfection and then subsequent downfall. They'd then been taught this concept of tikkun olam, or world-repairing, where we all had a responsibility to find and restore the parts of the world that we touch, to find and raise up light from the darkness. Isn't that beautiful?
I did a lot of work in my twenties to deal with demons from my past. Some of them had been circumstantial, some just a factor of my personality, and some were intentionally inflicted, by the suffering of those around me. I worked a lot out through my art, which was often criticized as dark, moody or depressing. It didn't matter. I needed it. I firmly believe making all that art saved me.
Now that I've had children, I am back at this work. Turns out raising children calls forth echoes of childhood ghouls. Perhaps that should have been obvious.
At the same time, I can stand in shoes like my own mother's (and all mothers) and understand the difficulty and sacrifice of this job in ways unfathomable to me before. My sense of compassion has been enhanced.
One solid lesson so far, is that our wounds will become gifts, if we let them. My resistance to addressing my own inner pain, masking it with a myriad of distractions and denial, only spurned the infection of negativity. My inner life and thoughts, are/were neural paths of self-destruction. I have had a head full of doubt, self-loathing, criticism, and judgment for years. The idea of being kind or gentle with myself is as foreign to me as sailing a ship. I just don't know how.
So I'm working on these things. I'm pushing into the places that hurt, into the discomfort. I am learning to have compassion with myself and listen. It's helping me extend that to others. I'm finding hope and healing in strange places I might have feared before: teachings of the Buddha, Christian Mystics, Catholic priests, anyone and everyone asking the questions of our time: how do we evolve? how do we find peace and grow past this need for division and xenophobia? Oh and poetry.
Tikkun olam.... We can heal this world. We can improve, we are not hopeless and should not despair. We may need to look beyond our own lifetimes for that hope, but it is there, as sure as the sunrise.
I am learning that without the pains of my past, I may never have found this place of clarity. Those wounds have become gifts and a path to my restoration.
There is so much work to be done.