You know how you can be looking for something your whole life but don’t know what it is until you find it?
My path to doing healing work began in England where I was a Special Education teacher in the east end of London. I had just graduated from university and knew that at some point I wanted to live in a L`Arche community with folks with developmental disabilities.
That day came in 1989 when I moved to Tacoma WA to live in a house in the Tacoma L`Arche community. The people in that house, assistants and `core members` as the folks with disabilities are called, lived together as family. People went out to work or stayed home to do the work of cleaning, shopping and driving people to appointments. There was a house leader, evening dinner together and evening prayer.
On the outside I appeared fun, outgoing, eager to be there and start this adventure. But inside I was nervous, judgmental and anxious that I would mess up somehow.
I helped people dress and do their chores, I cooked and cleaned and most of all, I hung out with the core members. The idea of `doing for` another was replaced by `being with` another. It was less about multitasking and more about the value of being truly present to another. I learned to see beauty and value in each person, even if they were people I didn’t like particularly or who pushed my buttons. This was true for both assistants and core members.
What surprised me most was that I felt seen and accepted for who I was, exactly the way I was. And because at that time I didn’t think too much of myself as a person on the inside, my heart cracked open… as I felt the incongruity of both feeling unworthy of this love and of knowing and feeling the exquisite truth that I was indeed a beautiful, perfect soul and worthy of more love than I could ever hope to take in.
The very people who had been so marginalized, so unwanted and unloved had the very capacity to give what they had been denied. When my heart cracked open it completely changed how I saw myself and how what was inside was so important, so beautiful.
I didn’t know that I had been longing to be seen and accepted just as I was and when it happened I felt as though I had come home to myself… That it was in my power to find the vulnerable parts of myself and love them and it was in my power to change my perspective.
That experience of feeling completely broken open and changed by being seen and accepted changed the trajectory of my life. It caused me to want to see myself through that lens and not be ashamed, it caused me to choose a style of parenting that made presence really important so that I could truly see my children as perfect just as they were. It caused me to seek experiences, people and groups that held as a value the power of presence and acceptance… It caused me to choose again and again the hard way if it meant I would learn and heal something in myself.
It caused me to be an advocate for the disenfranchised and a supporter of equality. It caused me to seek deeper connection with the Divine Source, studying Goddess and Earth religion. It caused me to say yes to my husband of 25 years every day and find ways that we could grow together, it caused me to develop my intuition and heal my wounds, to always trust that god has my back and when I don’t trust to trust anyway. . . because that is life changing.