Monday, February 25, 2013

Cries of the Heart

I am struggling tonight.  I just want to put that out there.
And I am not sure how to talk about it.
These days it feels like it is one thing after another after another
and I am feeling world weary. 
I think I need some support.
And some kindness.
Very little feels kind these days. 
Much of the truth I am seeing around my own life
feels harsh and hard to bear. Hard to hold.
Softness feels elusive right now. And I am craving it.
And if one more person tells me I am strong I think I will go out of my mind.
I know that I am strong,
and being strong does not mean the heart does not feel it when it hurts.

I wrote this one day when life felt particularly difficult and shared it with a small group of friends who wrote back and buoyed me without having to know what was wrong or my having to explain myself.  I am lucky. I have terrific friends.  Their support made the difference for me that day.  Even though I had been feeling terribly alone, I knew there were people out there who care about me and who were thinking about me, sending loving energy for whatever healing and support I needed at the time. 
There are days when we all need that kind of support, but so often we try to soldier through difficult times without asking for help.  And we end up feeling isolated.  Isolation makes whatever we are contending with even more difficult.  Human beings are creatures of connection.  We are meant to connect with each other, with the Divine, with nature, and with our own deep interior spirits.  All of these are essential relationships that are important to recognize and nurture.  They are part of what help us to be healthy and vital.  
But so often we confuse strength with self-sufficiency.  And sometimes things can become difficult for us when we encounter people who project their own need for us to demonstrate that we don't need any support.  There seems to be an unspoken contract in some relationships that suggests that if one person can "be strong" when times are tough then the other person will be able to also.  And not wanting to disappoint the other person, we might be tempted not to ask for help when we need it. There is no shame in asking for help.  It does not make us weak. It does not make us a burden.       
Instead, asking for help can open whole horizons of joy in life.  Knowing we are connected with others and part of a web of support enable us to face the challenges in life with more confidence.  It helps us to know that we can be the central core of our own web of support and that when we are feeling shaky, there are others we can call upon who can help to buoy our spirits and hold our hurting hearts while they heal.  And then, when the tough times pass, there are people with whom we can celebrate.
One of my favorite responses to my request for support that day is this -- 

Just breathe deeply. Give yourself a break.
Know you are loved and appreciated.
We are here to be aware, not to save the world.
Take in the pain.  Let it enter your heart, then breathe it out,
and your love will transform it to a goodness.
I will send you warm thoughts of love...thank you for being you.
You are wonderful!

I return to this message when I am feeling a little shaky.  It has become both poetry and prayer for me, just as my cry above has.  Together, they remind me of a Psalm -- a genre of literature in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) that are some of the most real and human words in the Bible.  So many of them explore the depth of human suffering and the turning of the soul toward remembering its relationship with the Divine and the love that surrounds us and fills us at all times. They were sung together by the community - a living expression of support.  My favorite is Psalm 139.  Read it sometime when you need a reminder of just how precious you are and how there is never any true isolation, no matter how you are feeling or what you are experiencing. 
Some of my favorite lines...
Beloved, you have searched me and known me.
Even before a word is on my tongue you know it completely.
Where can I go from your spirit?  Or where can I flee from your presence.
If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and settle at the farthest limits of the sea
even there your hand shall lead me, and you shall hold me fast.
Even the darkness is not dark to you.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made...
intricately woven in the depths of the earth and
your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
Search me, Beloved, and know my heart... 

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