Where have YOU been the last few years? or the last 25?
Two photos distracted me, this morning as I prepared to mull over with you, the geographical difference between these two words. The first was the face of a dear friend who is lost to me with for reasons too human to mention. I saw new lines in his familiar face that spoke of travels of which I knew nothing. The second image was similar; it was both familiar and unknowable.
Though currently in Antarctica, this Humpback whale has been around. It has the world warrior scars etched into its tail fin. It is a photo by © Robert Harding World Imagery/Offset. It took my breath away... Thank you to him. I can only imagine the inner and outer journey it took him to bring it to Bing... and to me this morning, and now, again, to you..
There is no more accurate a metaphor for this post (or for my own wrinkles, and travels) than those fin etchings of where it has been...
Someone pittied me yesterday in an online chaplaincy CPE course (...and I wasn't even complaining. Really.) It was one of those many 'growth' experiences that just show up for you unbidden and mostly ignored. But when you are a chaplain, you are suppose to be LISTENING.
I said I would think about it, but the pain he called out didn't really resonate with my inner GPS. These days I am clear about the pain that brought me here...and my gratitude for the shove it gave me – to this new life. I offered back that the pain/pity he was seeing might be his own. (...that counter transference thing... happening again right here in real life! LOL) He did not see the pain as his. He located himself away from the pain. It was outside him. It would be a reasonable strategy, if it worked. I have tried it but spiritual geography doesn't work like that. Distancing yourself from your own pain or discomfort just brings it to you, again.
Until I owned my circumstances and happenings as mine, I couldn't digest them.
Actually... 'owned' is too strong. Only until I was cornered, caught, tied up, starved for 40 days and nights, and stared down by non-existence did I accept that there was not ONE damn thing I could do about what had happened. Parts were a pretty rotten deal and it was mine. It took all that garbage to get me ripe: ripe to 'what is." (Okay...riper to what is.)
I composted the garbage/pain to the good Earth which knows what to do with it...because I was sick to death of the circles. ( Yeah... it's almost a book: girlQuantum.com.) I landed butt naked on new soil. Finally, I landed on new soil – rich with not-too-smelly compost.
I am not now that which I have been. I am no longer a blank slate; I got scars. Creaky is creeping up on me but I am more out of my own way – every day. I see myself in other peoples pain and joy. It is not mine and not about me, but I can empathize in ways that are helpful. I can sit with them and allow them to find their own way through - with my chaplain superpowers of sitting still and asking good questions.
Where you have been matters, but only until you can see yourself in it. It is not MY journey; it is OUR journey. I can definitely empathize with that.
Own those etchings.
on a Chaplain's life