A couple weekends ago I received the space to finally dive, ceremonially, into the angst and heartache I was carrying following the immensely stressful ordeal we recently went through with my beloved 9 year old daughter Arayla, in which I had been painfully forced to face the undeniably fragile line between life and death; forced to intimately and horrifically imagine my life without hers in it.
Since her blessed recovery I had been troubled to notice I was feeling more traumatized and distraught~ in fear, anger and heartache~ than relieved and grateful: for the enormous gift of her healing, for the generous outpouring of prayers we received, for the mysterious grace which was allowing me to still breathe her amazingly sweet self in. Here she was: rapidly, miraculously improving before my very eyes, skipping vibrantly through the house, scattering boldy her bright-eyed laughter, her astute bossiness, her gracious old-soul wisdom and elegance, and still my heart felt confusingly heavy, burdened by darkness.
Life has shown me that gratitude is a key to freedom. If only I can connect with sincere gratitude for what I have, for all the many ways I am blessed, for this incredibly precious breath, for my children’s health and radiant aliveness NOW, then I can bow humbly to life, and find simple peace in this bowing.
Yet in truth my gratitude had become eclipsed by my fear, grief and anger.
What a horribly intense experience to feel the threat of the loss of my child; threatened to imagine our future together tragically cut short. I remember in the first couple of days in the ICU, after the hospital doctors told me I needed to be prepared for the worst, in weaker moments my mind would helplessly envision what it would be like to have to go home without her; to have to go on with my life, without her. I could barely imagine it, only enough to know that I could not see how I would survive such a loss.
More than once after her profound recovery, dismally aware of how shut down I felt, in private corners of the day I would find myself scolding myself: “She lived! She’s here! You got to keep her! What are you so sad about? What right do you have to be angry with God? To feel so low? You should feel nothing but grateful now.” How rough we can be with our tender, hurting hearts.
I had a very telling dream, about 2 weeks after we came home from the hospital:
In the dream I was standing with God The Mother. And somehow my child, my baby, was inside a surrogate pregnant mother who was standing beside our great Mother-God. I was hysterical, pounding my fists into the Divine Mother, yelling and crying, saying “Hey! That is MY baby!” And she only shook her head, calmly and gently, saying to me: “No, Dear. This is my baby now.” And I was screaming at her, terrified, furious: “No! There must be some mistake! That is MY baby!” And she, all-powerful, was simply shaking her head at me, and saying: “Actually, she is my baby now. I’m going to raise her. She’s always been mine.” I woke sobbing in terror and rage and loss.
Our children never do belong to us, do they? They are merely given for us to steward and nourish and love as long as grace allows; just like our own bodies: temporary forms loaned to us to steward and nurture and celebrate as long as we are mysteriously given.
And so, receiving the revealing wisdom from my dream, I could see that at subtler levels of my being I was deeply angry with God, disheartened by the suffering of such vulnerable attachment to my beloveds inside a field of imminent, uncontrollable loss; not only grieving for myself, but for all beings; and overwhelmed by the pain of this sobering disillusionment at the heart of life.
And so, finally given enough space to really dive into my own heart’s angst, I saw that I had a very big “bone to pick” with God. It began with my hurting mama heart, and the still blistering wound inflicted by the painful threat of losing my sweet girl. And then right under that there was the longtime soul-weariness of single working motherhood, and unhealed life wounds; multi-generational scars carried and passed from mother to daughter to daughter to daughter.
And even deeper I saw that this bone I needed to pick with God was much bigger than my own little deeply privileged life suffering, or even the suffering of so many I personally love. It was about the greater suffering on the planet; the disheartening darkness of the sleeping humans and corporations making more and more mess with their blind fear and short-sighted greed, the sickness of our mother earth, the oceans, the soil, the forests, the bees; the bombs that are falling on innocent families as I write this, the collective insanity that fuels addiction and global dis-ease. What an absolute mess.
I became aware it was time for me to work with a piece of human suffering that is essentially about not wanting life to be as it is. Samsara: the suffering of “Not Want.” Not wanting life to include the threat of loss of our precious children. Not wanting Life to be so immensely messy. I found myself angry, really furious with God about this; distraught with the Great Mother about what a messy world of suffering this is. I found myself challenged to love a God like this, a life like this.
I was praying towards true resolution; how to find a way of peace in truly allowing life to be as it is? How to love it anyway~ to find gratitude for this life even in it’s inclusion of imminent loss, constant uncertainty, and zero control?
As I sat there, praying inside the heart of human suffering, tracking it all the way into my very human core, it didn’t take long before I began reflecting upon all of my own flaws and shortcomings and failures; everything I have to be sorry for~ as a woman, as a mother, as a friend, as a daughter, as a healer, as a teacher, as Life Itself. The pain of my own shortcomings, my own messiness, the many ways I myself have caused suffering~ to myself, and life around me~ with my limitations, my imperfections, my existence. How deeply I love, and still, I fail. I make messes. I am flawed.
It was at this point that the greatest comfort I could find was to begin repeating to myself, over and over again, towards life and everyone in it, towards my own broken heart: “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry…” It was the only thing that could help soothe the great pain I felt within, this true apology: “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.”
And then I received a vision. I could see the “Holon” of my apology. I could see that just as I was a tiny speck-of-dust human being, a single, white, privileged woman living in North America, sitting at the heart of sorryness, I was also the Great Mother God Herself, saying “I’m so sorry” to me, her daughter, and to all of life, for all her failures and shortcomings, all the ways she has broken the hearts of lives with her ferocious ways, in spite of her vast, infinite, mysterious love.
And when I saw that, when I felt that SHE too was sorry, so sorry for putting me through what she did with Arayla being so sick, sorry for the painful truth of uncontrollable impermanence, sorry for my womanly loneliness in this life chapter, sorry for the grand mess of this world, just like I was sorry for everything I was sorry for, I felt a SUPREME apology, and then a SUPREME forgiveness wash through me. God apologized, and I received her apology.
Apologizing as LIFE, to LIFE, for LIFE.
Life is so sorry. And, life is truly forgiven.
It was as though I had returned to my dream in which I was railing my angry, heartbroken fists against God, saying “No! There must be some mistake! That is MY baby! You can’t have her!” And at the end she said to me, gently: “No, dear one, she’s actually mine now. She’s always been mine.” And then she pulled me close into her, close to her great starry breast, embracing me in the unfathomably immense, infinite love of the Universe, and said: “And I am SO SORRY about this, dear one. I am so sorry for how much this hurts you. I’m so truly sorry.”
I don’t know if this makes sense to you, dear reader, or resonates inside your being. But in receiving God’s apology for the great suffering in our world, a circle was made whole in my heart once again. The great wound of Samsara within me began to heal.
Then I could forgive God for the undeniable truth that my children are really HERS, just as my own life is, as well. And I could even feel humbled in gratitude for the mysterious beauty of this raw truth. In receiving this supreme apology, from my own deepest self; as life, to life, for the barely bearable messiness and heartache of this life, I could forgive. And I could be forgiven, as well, for my own undeniably messy part in the equation.
In forgiveness I can see clearly again, as love, the chance to love this life as it is, come what may. Life is too short and too precious to stay angry for long with Life for it’s many imperfections; too short to stay angry with God for such a messy, challenging existence.
And so I extend this invitation and teaching to you, dear one. What darkness are you holding in your heart? What private cave of fear or hungry hole of grief? What angry, hopeless, scared, broken place are you holding within you? And if I told you that God, Life, the Great Mother herself is so sorry about this? So sorry about what hurts you? About your losses, your troubles, your pain? So, so deeply sorry, dear one. Can you let this in? Can you let it soothe you? Even a little? Softening the sharper edges? Lightening the darker corners? Kissing the deepest wound? Let it in, if you can. See what heals.
Love, and supreme apology, and supreme forgiveness~ in all directions…xoxo J