We must be prepared to let our heart break open.
I read the article about Elie Wiesel in the New York Times last week. He was someone I knew little about. He represented the collective memory of a brutal and sadistic time in what is now history but which for him, was lived experience. “He was defined not so much by the work he did as by the gaping void he filled. … In the aftermath of the Holocaust there was no singular voice to drive home the enormity of what had happened.”
Wiesel was recognized by the Nobel committee for speaking out against forgetfulness and violence when it awarded him the peace prize in 1986. His writings dealt with profound questions resonating out of the Holocaust: what is the sense of living in a universe that tolerates unimaginable cruelty? How could the world have been mute?
In a 1981 interview he said, “ If I survived, it must have been for some reason. I must do something with my life. It is too serious to play games with any more, because in my place, someone else could have been saved. And so I speak for that person. “
President Obama said, “ He raised his voice, not just against anti-semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all it’s forms. He implored nations and human beings to do the same, to see ourselves in each other and make real that pledge of never again”
`Because in my place, someone else could have been saved.`
This struck me as a distillation of our collective yearning to know the purpose of our life. The classic `why am I here?` quest that guides us in our spiritual journey to understand the purpose of our existence. Is it that we breathe a sigh of relief and say ` there but for the grace of God go I `?
I am struck today by the sense of hopelessness and anger in the face of violence as yet another and another shooting occurs. I feel a deep sadness that I don’t know how to express or what to do with. When my sons leaves the house I don’t fear that they will be shot by a police officer so how can I possibly understand?
How dare we presume that we are separate and disconnected from one another and so these events should not touch us? The message now, as it has always been is that we are one. We are one humanity, one species. What unites us is bigger than that which divides us. Fear, hate, anger can make us feel separate from others and when we feel wronged we want to hold onto those feelings. We want to connect with others, to find some meaning and understanding. We are attracted to others who feel the same way and soon we have groups of people connected by their anger and sense of injustice. Where does that take us? It either keeps us in a holding pattern on the hamster wheel of despair, feeding on itself or it can embolden us to collectively step in to a different vibration, the spiral path, where we set our eyes to where we want to be. Not to stuff those feelings down but to use them as a focus to heal ourselves individually and to create a new paradigm for the future. We don’t know what the future will be or what the solutions are but we know that it sure as hell isn’t doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
What do we do? It’s important to feel the feelings and get uncomfortable.
It’s hard to dive into a pile of stinking raw emotion, despair, sadness, hopelessness, anger, grief, sorrow. Yet it is our body’s expression, it is our humanness that informs our spirit that things are not right. Tears help to heal and help us feel connected to others. When our tears and sadness are stuffed, one day they will all blow up in rage and then we can mistake rage for action and justice. How many people go around angry all the time? Let the anger flow and the grief bubble up. The key is to allow the anger to unlock the grief.
Let this be a meditation. Sit with yourself, let the sorrow arise that comes up in response to horrible news, unbelievable tragedy, let yourself be personally touched, what would it be like if it was your kid, friend, spouse, parent who was murdered, bombed, persecuted? Find the personal response within and let your heart break open and your tears fall. Because we are one humanity, every person is our brother, sister, parent child.
What beliefs and thoughts would you have to let go of inside you, for you to feel the truth of our connected humanity? Acknowledge these thoughts and beliefs and let them go. They don’t serve.
From a place of compassion offer healing, prayers, ask for the healing of releasing selfishness, self-righteousness, fear, doubt, shame, criticism and judgment. Imagine what it would look like if all relationships came from a place of love and compassion. What would it look like if you knew you were worthy and had value just the way you are? Would you see others that way? Open your heart and radiate love to yourself, receive love from the Divine and expand your ability to give and receive love. Send love to all the people and places that need it.
From the preface to `Night` by Wiesel..
“…. I watched helplessly as language became an obstacle. It became clear that it would be necessary to invent a new language. But how was one to rehabilitate and transform words betrayed and perverted by the enemy?”
The act of writing and finding the right words can be an important healing endeavor. The act of speaking about your experience, putting words to feelings is an important healing. No matter where we start, we must start. We can’t wait for the perfect words and phrases but must listen closely to our own hearts and minds. We need an audience; to hold us, to bear witness to us, to receive us and our experiences. When we speak of our own experience we unconsciously give others permission to be themselves.
May we find a language that transcends fear and speaks directly to the hearts of humankind.