Since January, I have taken a Journey through the underworld (The Interim Time) into the center of my Heart… Through all the faces and experiences of ‘done me wrong’. All of the abandonment… Of not being valued, of not being seen, of not being loved and cherished. What is at the very center of my Heart?
At the very center of my Heart… I find a mirror.
In the mirror I see all of the ways I do not love, cherish, see and value… Myself. All of the ways I self-defeat… All of the ways I hesitate… All of the ways I hide my own light.
Then as I turn from the mirror… To look back at all of those ‘done me wrong’ faces. I make the choice to shift perspective. To explore, recognize and feel… What I have withheld… The pain I have caused… The love I have only given with condition. To continue the Spiral Dance with Shadows… Outward.
To use the difficult relationship with my mother as an example: While it was defensive, I can see the ways I closed off in to her. I was present with her, especially when she needed help as her health declined, yet I was present with a closed Heart. I can look back and see the ways I did so.
My mother was deeply damaged, would it have helped her if I had been better able to stay present with an Open Heart? That will remain unseen as she is gone. I actually do not believe so. My emotional distance from her those last years came after a lifetime of attempting to be close to someone who could not be.
The choice to flow love out of an open Heart, is ultimately not about her (or anyone else)… It is about how being closed to her taught me to love with condition. It reinforced conditional love within my Heart. Loving anyone with condition, influences the way I love everyone. Including myself.
(A side note: While it is a story for another time, I lived with my mother and her caregivers the last two years of her life as she declined from Alzheimer’s. Things occurred that were beyond Shadow Dancing… It was Divine Grace. It is why, although it was profoundly difficult, I will never regret the decision I made to live with and tend her.)
Integrating the influence of the relationship with my mother will remain a lifelong Journey. Integrating all of the difficult and painful relationships of my life is an ongoing Journey.
A powerful step into integration is to forgive the one who hurt(s) us. Forgiveness is rooted in our ability to recognize the way they engaged or currently engage with us. To recognize their Shadows, their wounded places, and how they react from those places. Then perhaps most importantly, how our own Shadows interact and react to theirs. What are the steps of our shared Shadow Dance? The knowing gained with this insight is a source of empathy and compassion. The foundation of forgiveness.
Then, I am sensing another necessary step in the dance… A step beyond forgiveness.
Just before he walked out of my life, the ‘perfectly imperfect man’ showed me his despair, fear and pain. He briefly cracked his chest open, revealing what was there, before slamming it shut and placing double locks on his Heart. Once I began to emerge from my own despair, fear and pain, in knowing his, I was able to forgive him. As is often necessary with forgiveness, this occurred within my own Heart as we have no interaction.
Yet, over time I continued to feel incomplete with our dance, it was a feeling of growing discomfort. By steadily continuing to lean into that discomfort, it finally revealed to me the place deep within my own Heart, that has been closed for a very long time. I cracked it open and out poured pain and then... Flowing Love… First silently to the 'perfectly imperfect man'… Then as Shadow Dancing is a Spiral Dance… It flowed to my mother and then another face and another face and another face… Back and back into the center. Back into the mirror.
Beyond forgiveness is the place of loving with Heart Wide Open… Of loving without condition or hesitation. Even when to do so opens us up to the risk of getting hurt. Doing so with my mother will only occur with Spirit, her physical form is complete. Yet, I have others in my life who still breathe and walk and live. And like we all do, breathe and walk and live, through their wounded lives. Perfectly imperfect human beings.
My next exploration on this personal Journey is to go beyond ‘saying’ my Heart is Open-Wide into feeling it. Especially to feel it in the difficult and scary places. Especially to Love the difficult people.
It is an illusion that in closing our Hearts, we save ourselves from pain. All the years of being present with yet closing my Heart to my mother... Did not shield me from pain...
It held the pain inside of me.
Now my intention, my choice, is this: I will not react to the pain inherent in loving perfectly imperfect human beings by closing my Heart. What I choose now is to keep my Shadow of relationship, The Redwolff, ever at my side. She has a keen nose and sharp eyes. She has a remarkable ability to discern and then choose. In a profound way, pain is the perfect informant, when it arrives I will simply ask the questions:
Lean with? Lean towards? Lean away?
Choosing forgiveness and then flowing love through an Open Heart does not mean we stay with situations or people, regardless. In certain circumstances, leaning away can include the choice of complete disengagement. What it does mean is that we are better able to make those choices from clarity rather than reaction. To do so with kindness, compassion and always an open loving Heart. And most importantly, to begin by offering kindness and compassion, with ourselves.
Perhaps the deepest shifts can occur when together, we consciously Shadow Dance with another person. Although frequently, this is not possible either by our own choice to become or remain disengaged or by that person's unwillingness or inability to join us in the dance. Yet Shadow Dancing can be done quite well as a solo because remember, it is always ultimately about the healing Journey within our own Heart. The other person's lack of presence does not diminish the remarkable potential for that healing to occur. All of my Shadow Dancing these last months have been an improvised, solitary dance through my own Heart & Spirit.
My Heart is a'Fire, flowing warm bright Love. With everyone I choose to be present with, I offer love without condition or hesitation. To love their perfect imperfection. I begin with myself.
Fear and love do not belong together.
As I write it is morning here in my Portland hOMe. I am sitting in my 'morning chaise' in the SE windows with the warm Spring sun and air flowing in. It is Beltane, May Day or as it is known in Hawai’i, Lei Day. The day to Bless the soil of the Earth and prepare to plant. A quote from today’s reading from Mark Nepo’s ‘The Book of Awakening’ is so appropriate:
'The culmination of one love, one dream, one self, is the anonymous seed of the next.
There is very little difference between burying and planting.
For often, we need to put dead things to rest, so that new life can grow.
And further, the things put to rest, wether it be a loved one, a dream, or a false way of seeing, becomes the fertilizer for the life about to form. As the well used thing joins with the earth, the old love fertilizes the new, the old dream fertilizes the dream yet conceived, the painful way of being that strapped us to the world, fertilizes the freer inner stance about to unfold.’
~ Mark Nepo