Truth is My Only Business

Truth is My Only Business

I’m letting go now, my friend. I give in.

I welcome you to give in, alongside me.

I cannot hold on a moment longer to anything needing to be a certain way.

I cannot perfect these costumes life has asked me to wear, nor can I master these roles I’m asked to play.

Any posture is too much to hold and every mask has to come off.

I cannot continue to indulge these unresolved dichotomies within me: good and bad, beautiful and ugly, success and failure, holy and profane, loveable and unloveable.

May they all burn to ash in the fire of my own radical embrace.

I’m giving up now on being anything other than myself.

And if I’m going to be loved and hated for being myself, so be it.

And if I’m going to be mocked and scorned, worshipped and adored, praised and judged, it’s really none of my business.

Truth is my only business.

I cannot entertain another recycled thought of wishing this instant would somehow be other than it is; of arrogantly thinking life must have gotten it wrong somehow to be so agonizing for so many.

What delicious reprieve when we finally stop trying to control the uncontrollable and really let it all just be as it is.

I don’t mean to suggest we should stop praying for the world to come to peace, or halt our efforts as agents of necessary change.   (Please don’t!)

I’m in no way implying that apathy could bear fruit, or that complacency might catalyze our essential liberation as individuals or as a species.

All I’m saying is that our habitual struggle against life as it is, is one of the basic, insidious ways we contribute to suffering— inside our own lives, and life as a whole.

Let it be a fucking catastrophe! Let it be a wonder!

Let it be the excruciating journey that brings us to our knees time and time again, begging for mercy—

That wakes us at 3:00 a.m. with pounding hearts of anxiety and prayer, aching for our children, for our world—

That stops us in our tracks and makes us gasp out loud to witness such ineffable, stunning BEAUTY—

That makes us laugh so hard in moments we are at once crying and trying not to pee in our pants!

This life that humbles us over and over and over again, teaching us about gratitude, about resilience and evolution; teaching us about remorse, and faith and forgiveness; teaching us about the infinite faces of grace.

I’m giving up on it ever getting better than this.

I’m breaking up with the illusion that “awakening” or “fulfillment” or “success” or some long-awaited cause for “ecstatic contentment” is coming in some future moment.

I’m giving up on life, love, work, parenthood, sex, family, partnership, or adulthood ever meeting any of the idealized fantasizes I’ve projected onto them.

Dare we know that peace comes as we stop searching for it; stop waiting for it to look different than this, right here, right NOW?

Dare we claim this moment as the one when we completely lean in and finally say YES to it all, just as it is?

What a relief to let this life BE the intensely mixed bag it IS—the gutting anguish and the grandeur all mixed up in one barely palatable bite; a bite that we continue opening wider to receive because we are alive for but an INSTANT, so we might as well show up for it!

We might as well live with our naked hearts exposed, in fearless and generous surrender, for all the world to taste of.

We might as well give everything to Love.

~*~ Jesua

 

 

Losing It, and Then Finding It Again

Losing It, and Then Finding It Again

The other morning I woke up to one of those crazy time-crunch scenarios. You know—where it feels basically impossible to do everything we’re supposed to do inside the tiny window of time we’re given to do it?

I had the chimney sweep people scheduled to arrive at 8 AM, needed to get the kids fed and Ezra off to school by 8:15, and then a Zoom call with a brand new client at 8:30.
 
Immediately following my Zoom call, I was meant to pack up the car and drive six hours south to the Bay Area for an important weekend event.
 
Add in a large dose of pre-menstrual hormones, and the fact of this new client being a world-famous thought-leader, and perhaps you can imagine the delicate state of my nerves.
 
Knowing the schedule was a set-up for stress, I began the morning with silence at my altar, burned some holy cedar, offered up a simple prayer, and got in the shower. One moment at a time, Jesua. Just one moment at a time.
 
I sweetly woke up my boy Ezra, put on the kettle for tea, and headed to the laundry room for some clean clothes.
 
That’s when I noticed the huge wet pile of dog diarrhea all over the laundry room floor. Oh. God. No.
 
I felt my heart begin to pound, and quickly ran to get some Nature’s Miracle and rags from under the kitchen sink to clean it up.
 
Cortisol levels rising, starting to lose my composure, I began scanning all the floors of our home. Much to my horror, I realized that there was indeed diarrhea EVERYWHERE.
 
Big, gloppy, drippy piles sat gleaming all over the living room rug, and all up and down the hallways. Our dog Freya had apparently gotten super sick in the middle of the night, and she’d had diarrhea in pretty much every room of the house.
 
Of all the mornings?
 
I yelled out frantically for the kids to come help, and they scurried out of their rooms, still rubbing their eyes awake, to see what the problem was. For a couple moments they just stood there, taking in this situation with wide-eyed dismay on their faces.
 
I started spiraling into a rant of triggered reactivity. I begged them to help. Ezra ran to get some rags wet with hot water. Arayla put Freya into her crate and started looked around the house for more piles. A few moments later she yelled out in a panic from my office that not only was there a pile soaking into my beautiful office rug, but that she had stepped in it! She started wailing.
 
Did I take some deep breaths at that point, find the grace of pure presence, summon my maturity, have a little chuckle, and remember to perceive this disgusting mess and time-crunch with a dose of essential perspective?
 
Oh, I wish. But no, no I did not. 🙁
 
Instead, I completely lost it. I descended into total overwhelm and started to yell and weep, while cleaning off Arayla’s poop-covered foot, and then wildly scrubbing the diarrhea out of the rugs.
 
Suddenly I noticed the clock. 8:10. The chimney sweep people still weren’t here. Ezra wasn’t dressed yet for school and he hadn’t eaten. My important call was in 20 minutes.
 
In that moment I realized that I had exactly 20 minutes to transform from my worst, most reactive, frantically weeping, diarrhea-scrubbing self, into my most wisely centered, divinely reflective and gracefully useful self.
 
Oh my. What a challenge.
 
It was 8:17 when Ezra and I jumped into the car to drive to school, and while he ate toast off his lap, I tried to settle my weepy breath. I could feel my boy working to find his composure as well, shaking off our morning drama as he prepared to enter his school day.
 
My face was still wet and swollen with tears, and I could feel shame and remorse creeping in, over how much messier I had made our already messy morning with my terrible reactivity. I had really lost it.
 
Thoroughly humbled, I said to my son, “Wow, my love. I am so sorry. I really lost it this morning. I’m so sorry I handled that so badly.”
 
Ezra took a deep breath, and turned to me with softness in his eyes. He said simply, “It’s Ok Mama. Everybody loses it sometimes. You don’t have to be perfect.”
 
Astonished and immediately soothed by his words, I was silent. I could feel the invitation to find what I had lost: to return to love.
 
Then I replied, “Thank you so much for your compassion and your forgiveness, Ezra. It really means so much to me.”
 
He said simply, “Of course, Mom.” We had arrived at the drop off spot, and he tumbled out of the car, grabbing his backpack and lunchbox, shouting out, “I love you!” as he went.
 
It was 8:22 now, and I was driving back home: breathing, emptying, gathering myself back together again, praying.
 
I let my son’s transmission of compassion penetrate my nervous system and heart. I let my own love find its way into the darkest crevice of this moment. At 8:27 I pulled into my driveway.
 
My daughter was waiting and opened the door for me as I walked in. Arayla looked at me sweetly with immense understanding, and I gushed, “I’m so sorry for losing it so intensely, Love!”
 
Immediately she offered in return, “Oh Mama, I know. I’m so sorry for how hard that was!” Then she said, “I know you have a session right now. Is there anything I can do to support you?”
 
Oh my goodness. More incredible kindness now from this child. I almost started crying again just to feel her empathy and support. I kissed her cheek and said, “Oh wow, yes. Thank you so much. Could you please make me my tea?”
She said she would.
 
I ran to the bathroom, splashed cold water on my face, put on some moisturizer and eye-liner. I made deep eye-contact with myself in the mirror. I hurried to my desk. 8:29. I took a few more breaths, and prayed to get out of the way for Love’s work.
 
I opened up my computer, and clicked into my Zoom account. 8:30 AM.
 
My client arrived to the call, just as Arayla quietly placed a mug of hot tea beside me. I winked at her with immense gratitude.
 
With my heart tenderly open and freshly available, I said to my client, “Good morning,” and for the next hour proceeded to skillfully hold space for his deepening seeing, self-compassion and revelation. It was a beautiful, powerful session.
 
Hours later, as I drove along Hwy 5 on my way down to the Bay, the time-crunch diarrhea disaster now a shrug of the past, I contemplated our mundane morning of mayhem and mercy.
 
I wondered towards the deeper medicine; what was it for? What was the wisdom wanting to be gleaned from this story?
 
For one thing, the immediacy of compassion from the children was clearly a potent mirror, right? How beautiful they were. How resilient. How quick to offer forgiveness and support.
 
Then I humored myself for a moment, giggling out loud, as I imagined mischievous angels out in the wings, purposefully throwing me off course, just to see how quickly I could recalibrate.
 
I imagined one angel turning to the other, with a naughty smile, saying playfully, “What do you think she’ll do if we throw some dog diarrhea into the mix?” Mean, mean angels. 😉
 
In these challenging times, it does seem essential that we hone our skills of rapid resilience and repair. We lose it, and then we have to find it again, super quick.
 
Ideally we don’t always get so triggered and reactive that we make the mess even messier, like I did that morning. In our better moments we can just clean up that shit, wash our hands and get on with it.
 
But since we are human after all, and our lives can be stressful, and hormones are a factor, it seems that part of our spiritual warrior training is to learn how to go from the worst to the best with increasing efficiency and grace.
 
Lost and then found again, just like that. Bam.
 
How quickly can we see our mistake, apologize, take responsibility, find self-forgiveness, and then immediately return to embodying something more skillful and useful? It’s a good, steep challenge of a lifetime.
 
And all of it, always, can be used for deeper humbling. Thank you for the continuous humbling, Life. It really works.
 
Please forgive me. I forgive myself. I love myself. I love you.


REFUGE

REFUGE

In these trying times of fires and hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes ravaging all corners of the globe; with political insanity raging and uncertainty looming around every bend; these heartbreaking times that find the whales sick and the bees leaving; that find humans trafficking humans and children shooting other children, I’m praying towards where the deepest refuge can be found.
I’m praying towards how I might BE the refuge.
 
I take refuge in this instant, my friend. This holy only instant of my life, our life, and our world. This sacred moment in which we all exist together, now.
 
I take refuge in this breath; in this moment of our breathing, of our receiving, of our grieving, our praying and our loving.

I take refuge in a Truth that celebrates the oneness of humanity, cures the disease of separation, and resolves all false division.

I take refuge in this LOVE that is large enough to include the ugliest, scariest, most shameful dramas of our world, and the ways these mirror the very wars happening within ourselves.
 
I take refuge in wild Mercy, in Love’s grandest gesture of radical inclusivity.
I take refuge in formless, eternal permanence; this vast, open treasure that doesn’t come and go.
 
I take refuge in my own simple, humble human heart—an innocence that lies deeper than identity and role; a trust in life that doesn’t require our world to be trustworthy; a forgiveness that includes the unforgiveable; a compassion for the wound at the heart of every sin.
 
I take refuge in YOU, in your willingness, in your raw vulnerability, in your brave honesty, and in your breathtaking commitment to love and truth that brought you right here, to this moment of reading these words.
 
I take refuge in the ways you show up, every day, even when it’s really hard, and discover anew how to tend to yourself, how to tend to the embers of your own heart, and then to the people, plants, creatures and sacred assignments of your life.
 
I take refuge in the footsteps of our elders, our great Masters, our wisdom-keepers, way-showers and truth-tellers.
 
I take refuge in the warm, soft hands of my son, and the shimmering eyes of my daughter.
 
I take refuge in that which inspires real kindness amongst strangers, and fresh devotion between longtime friends and lovers. I take refuge in the way these times inspire community, invoke activism and fuel prayer.
 
I take refuge in the wisdom of restraint, and the joy of surrender.
 
I take refuge in this Grace that reveals an astonishing purity of silence, of wellness, of wholeness, that none of this mayhem ever touches.
 
My friend, let’s BE this grace, this wild mercy, this humble human, this courageous heart, this curative kindness, this restful wellness we have yearned for.
 
Let’s not wait another moment to lean in to what’s holding us all.
 
Let’s BE the refuge our whole world can rest in. Shall we?
~*~ Jesua
 
photo by the beloved and exquisitely gifted Lone Mørch.
Just Life

Just Life


“Do you believe in ‘One True Love’ M
ama?” my daughter Arayla (14.5) asked, just as I was sitting down to join them for dinner. My son Ezra (almost 11) was still lighting the candles.

I pulled my chair in, unfolded my napkin onto my lap and offered my hands out to each of my children, to pause for a moment in giving thanks. After we said thank you, and Ezra asked if someone could please pass the kale salad, Arayla persisted, “So Mom, do you?”

I looked into her eyes to see what kind of answer she was looking for. “Are you asking if I believe there is one person in the world who is our true beloved?” I asked.

She nodded playfully with glistening eyes. She was testing me. I felt into it for a moment, and then answered with certainty: “Yes, yes I do.”

My daughter’s eyes widened with surprise. She gasped, “You do?”

I served myself a heaping plateful of salad as I affirmed: “Yes. I believe YOU are your ‘One True Love’. Life itself, love itself, as me and as you, is our One True Love. And all the different people and creatures we get to love and learn from along the way, even the really challenging ones, are all aspects of our One True Love. I am my One True Love. And you guys are definitely my One True Love, too!”

The kids looked at each other, conspicuously nudged each other under the table, rolled their eyes a little, and chuckled. Ezra commented fondly, “That answer was sooo YOU, Mom.”

I winked at him, “Oh yeah? Consistent and predictable?”

Arayla snorted as she said, “Yep.” She had brought some nori seaweed sheets to the table and began messily making herself a nori wrap with the salad, avocado and rice. For a moment I considered micro-managing her messy creation, and then held my tongue and took a deep breath instead.

The conversation easily shifted into shares from the day.

Arayla had joyous horse tales from her barn to relay; bareback riding and deepening trust.

Ezra shared how his beloved teacher had said to their class, “Now that you’re in fifth grade, you’ll probably notice your bodies are starting to change. And you may even begin to have new feelings towards one another.”

Ezra admitted blushingly, “It was a little cringey.” Then he confessed that privately he had been thinking, “Um… actually? We’ve been having ‘feelings’ for one another since at least third grade. Maybe even Kindergarten?” We all giggled in agreement.

Arayla and I dove into a side conversation about a friend of hers she had run into downtown.

When I brought my attention back to Ezra I noticed he was just sitting there, not touching his food, kind of spacing out. “What are you thinking about, Love?” I asked him.

His eyes came back into focus and he looked at me, quietly. “Not thinking,” he answered casually. “Just feeling.” He picked up his fork and took another bite of food.

Curious, I prodded, “Care to share what you’re feeling?”

Ezra shrugged, and replied, “Just life.”

I asked, “You’re just feeling life? What about life?”

Ezra said, “Just life, Mom. You know—existence? Like—all of it. Like what connects all beings—everything, everywhere? This. Here. Now—  Life. ”

Arayla smiled affectionately at her little brother, and said, “Yeah Mom. He’s just feeling Life.”

Right—  Life. What else is there to feel? Duh.

A few minutes later when I noticed Ezra was struggling to make a nori roll, I offered to help. When I got to the end part, where you have to seal the deal and stick the nori to itself, I must have gotten some inner wires crossed, because absent-mindedly I started licking the edge, just like you would when rolling a joint, or a hand-rolled tobacco…(neither of which I’m in the habit of doing, mind you.)

It wasn’t until I looked up and found Ezra staring at me incredulously, as I licked his nori roll shut, that I suddenly realized I had mixed up different kinds of rolls and correct moments for tongue involvement!

We all laughed really hard, and Ezra feigned disgust as he gingerly took the perfectly licked nori joint from me, saying, “Wow Mom, thanks. This is so special.” 😉

These funny little failures are sometimes the best part of all.

After we had finished eating, I pushed myself up from the table and grabbed some dishes to clear as I went. “Can you guys please clean the kitchen tonight? I’m taking Freya for a walk.” They both said “Ok” and immediately began negotiating who would have which jobs.

I walked out into the newly crisp autumn air, pulled my hood over my head, zipped up my vest, and started up our driveway. I could still faintly hear the kids voices, squabbling about their chores from inside the house. Sounds of my dear life; my little family, my home, my love.

I took long strides up into the dark open evening of our neighborhood. Freya happily sniffed the grasses and bushes, and I urged her along, wishing to move my body.

I noticed our half-moon then, peering out from behind some clouds: solid, clean and clear. And  stars—so endless and exquisitely understated. I imagined all the sweet neighborly trees, kindly nodding their leafy heads towards me in the dark as I passed.

This delicious and seamless co-mingling of life. This sacred substance of air meeting this sacred substance of lungs.  “Just life,” my boy had said.

As I listened to the sound of my boots meeting the street,  I reveled in the contagiousness of truth. How we pass it along, back and forth, like a holy air-borne virus that gathers strength and power in the sharing.

I bowed inwardly then to my One True Love. I blew a passionate kiss from Life to Life.

Then I stopped completely, already home, and let nothing else be needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You Don’t Have To Be Good”

“You Don’t Have To Be Good”

Single working parenthood has gotten the intimidating reputation that it has because it’s no joke. I mean, obviously any form of parenting is quite the rigorous task. And married or partnered parenting certainly brings its own set of fierce and complex challenges; I remember well.

But single parenting can be a particularly sobering, humbling shitload to juggle—requiring a tremendous amount of ongoing self-compassion, resilience, humor, and devotion.

And sometimes, no matter how much we might wish or will it otherwise—our stress and exhaustion, hormones and triggers can get the better of our parenting. We make painful mistakes with our children, and then get to work with remorse and the blessed opportunity for repair inspired by those mistakes.

One recent evening, I invited my children to join me at our living room altar. They came willingly—open and curious. “What’s up, Mom?” Arayla (14) asked, plopping herself down on the copper-colored meditation cushion to my right. I patted the other empty cushion to my left, motioning to Ezra, as I replied, “I just want us all to have a chance to sit together and share a bit.” Ezra (10) planted his bottom dramatically on the cushion beside me, exhaling deeply.

We all faced the altar. I sat in the middle, between them, and carefully lit the center pillar candle, and the two candles beside it. Everyone was quiet. Then I lit the small bundle of cedar in our abalone shell, letting the sacred smoke cleanse my body, mind and heart before handing the shell to Arayla, who did the same, before reaching around me to hand it to her brother.

After a moment I took a deep breath, and vulnerably shared, “I just want to acknowledge that I’ve clearly been carrying some extra stress lately, my Loves. And I know there have been moments when that stress has leaked out onto you both, through my voice and my energy; moments when I’ve lost my center and my temper.”

They both nodded quietly, listening with presence.

I continued, “And I know I already apologized in the moment, but it’s been weighing heavy on my heart—those moments when I fail to live as love with you. And so I just wanted to say again how sorry I am for any and all of those ways that my energy has felt abrasive to you, or for the moments when my words have been reactive and sharp. I always want to be so skillful and graceful with you, and I’m sorely aware of the ways I fall short.”

I picked up the lighter and burned some more cedar, offering it to Spirit, acknowledging the power in my own prayer.

The kids were quiet, just taking this in. Then Arayla placed her hand on my thigh, and with compassion responded, “Oh Mama, Thank you. And it’s okay, really. You’re holding a lot. I’m sorry we stress you out sometimes! I’m sorry for when we’re bickering and driving you crazy. And thank you for everything you’re giving. Thank you for everything you do for us all the time.”

Then Ezra piped in, “Yeah, Mom, thanks for everything you do for us. And…. I’m sorry for my part too. Like the mess I left in the kitchen yesterday, and for forgetting my homework and my lunch twice this week! And for, you know…when I don’t listen.” His shoulders slumped down, clearly feeling his own remorse of shortcoming.

I smiled at him tenderly and pulled him close. “Thank you, and it’s okay. We are all growing.”

I made eye contact with Arayla, feeling the simple grace of forgiveness flowing between us. I took another breath, and continued, “There’s something else I wanted to say, perhaps especially to you, Ezra.”

He turned to me, looking straight into my eyes, asking, “Yeah, what is it?”

I shifted my position back a little, so we could all see each other. I chose my words deliberately, “I’ve been noticing lately that you’ve been working extra hard to be so helpful around the house, Ezra. You’ve been helping out with cleaning, and taking out the garbage and recycling without being asked, and you’ve been setting the table, and taking out Freya in the morning. So many ways you’ve been really showing up as such a helpful member of our family.” Ezra’s face brightened and his golden chest lifted proudly.

I continued, “And I’ve been praising you every time, haven’t I, and letting you know how wonderful it is to feel your support?” Ezra nodded happily in agreement.

I glanced over at his sister, who raised her eyebrows at me, curious about where this was going. Then I turned and looked deeply into Ezra’s eyes, and slowly, with power behind my words, I said to him, “I just want to make sure you know that you don’t have to be good in order to be loved.”

The room got extra quiet.

I looked back and forth between them, as I continued, “You don’t have to be helpful, or act in a certain way, in order to secure my love.” I paused, to see how this was landing.

Ezra said quickly, “Oh I know Mom, it just feels really good to show up! I like it.”

I nodded in understanding, and then added, “Hey, helpful behavior is a wonderful skill to have in life. It DOES feel good to show up. It’s so important to find meaningful ways of contributing to one another and to our home and to our world, in all the ways we can. And it’s very important in a family that all the work doesn’t fall upon one person.”

I looked at both of the kids, beaming, as I accentuated, “Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE your help. It’s awesome and necessary! Please don’t stop.”

Ezra giggled a little to feel how excited I get about receiving support.

I continued, “BUT I just want to make sure you know that you don’t have to be good. It’s not your job to be good in life. What you give, and what you do, and how you perform, and act—these are not the reasons I love you. Sometimes your behavior triggers me, and sometimes your behavior delights me. But my love for you is constant, having nothing to do with what you do. I love you just for your being, okay?”

I dove into Arayla’s ancient, wise-blue eyes, and echoed to her softly, “I love you just for your being, okay?”

She smiled at me, cozying up to me sweetly, as she mumbled shyly, “Okay, Mom.”

Then Ezra galumphed all of his 105 pounds of ten-year-old boy into my lap, straddling me, almost knocking me over, as he said into my ear, “You don’t have to be good all the time either, Mom. We always love you too.”

I laughed out loud at his quick reversal of the teaching.

I said, “Hmmm, are you sure about that? I thought Mamas were supposed to be good all the time? I’d certainly like to be.”

Ezra shook his head and said, “Nope. Nobody’s supposed to be good all the time Mom, not even you.”

I sighed then, resolutely, and shrugged happily, “That settles that, then.”

Sooner or later, most of us find the need to trade in being good, for simply being wholeheartedly ourselves.

Do you maybe wish to burn some holy cedar now, and truly apologize, and be forgiven, and once again surrender being good for being wholeheartedly yourself? I left my candles lit on my altar for you. Be my guest, my friend. Please be my guest.

Everyone Has A Role to Play

Everyone Has A Role to Play

This past Sunday evening I began heading home to Ashland after a full weekend in the Bay Area. I stopped at Harbin Hotsprings in Middletown for a few blissful hours of alternating hots and colds before getting in my car to continue North.

About 15 minutes after leaving Harbin, as I drove along the 2-lane Hwy 29, in one mesmerizing instant I witnessed an approaching car suddenly crash horrifically into the side embankment, flipping over and rolling twice before skidding to an upside-down stop just off the road.

It was a moment of profoundly heightened awareness. Everything seemed to slow way down and I noticed a powerful lucidity of presence. Filled with immense concern for the people inside the car, I immediately pulled my own car over to the side, along with a few other cars who had also witnessed the accident.

I got out of my car and stood back for a moment, leaning against my car, as I watched two men running at full-speed towards the upside-down vehicle. For maybe 10 seconds I waited, breathing and reading the situation from a short distance, trying to discern whether it was right and true for me to get involved.

Then I heard a very clear voice within my own heart, saying simply: “You have a role to play here. You are needed here.” When I heard that voice speak with such clarity, I moved quickly without hesitation towards the accident.

Two people, a young couple, were managing to crawl out from the upside-down car. There was a flurry of activity amongst the people who had all stopped to help. Someone was calling for an ambulance, someone else was determining whether or not the car might explode. I knew where my place was—right with the couple, and so I helped them to crawl as far from the car as they were able to before collapsing, and I sat down in the gravel, holding them as they were shaking and crying.

I watched as the adrenaline that had propelled them to escape from the car, gave way to deeper waves of shock and trauma.

The young man, who had been the one at the wheel, was in pretty rough shape. His face was cut up badly and bleeding profusely from several different wounds. He wept continuously, “I’m so sorry, oh God, I’m so sorry…” His girlfriend seemed relatively physically unscathed, but was experiencing extreme shock and terror, rocking, weeping hysterically, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay….”

I helped the young man to lie down, and then sat at his head, holding his head and his heart, while his girlfriend shuddered, sobbing and shaking beside me. A couple of other people pulled their cars over to help. By some incredible luck, amongst the people who pulled over, one was a firefighter and another a nurse. It was determined that the most notable physical injuries were to the young man’s face, and we decided that it was best to keep him lying still on his back while we waited for the ambulance. Someone handed me some clean rags to help stop the bleeding.

For maybe 30 minutes as we waited together for the ambulance I overheard myself speaking with supreme gentleness to this young couple.  The heart spoke so simply—powerful words of reassurance and protection, gentle words of gratitude for their lucky lives. To his constant wail of profound apology and remorse, it felt natural to acknowledge his sorryness for the accident, to remind him that accidents can serve to teach us, and to invoke a possibility of self-forgiveness.

I carefully picked shards of glass out of this young man’s hair, so acutely aware of his damp, dark curls, tenderly feeling how this was someone’s precious child in my hands. I felt the unmistakable grace and divine timing of my getting to be there; the honor of getting to hold this young couple through such a scary life moment of trauma.

All the while I simultaneously watched others moving around us, everyone doing their unique part to help. It was the most extraordinary orchestration and collaboration of human support.

Two people found a way to crawl into the car to retrieve the couple’s wallets, keys and phones. Somebody else directed traffic slowly around the accident. I could hear a woman staying on the phone with 911 to help direct the ambulance to our exact location. Yet another person helped the young woman beside me to call a couple of her relatives to let them know that they had been in an accident. I helped to hold the phone up to the young man’s ear so his sister could speak comforting words of love to him.

It’s amazing to notice how in a crisis situation, there are no strangers. We are so clearly in this together. All the socially conditioned agreements we collectively carry about how we are supposed to behave with people that we don’t know instantly fall away in a moment of crisis. What arises instead is the underlying pulse of our shared humanity, and the natural ways we can let our love and care for one another lead.

We all stayed until the ambulances, firetrucks, and paramedics came, and then it was clear my role was complete. I carefully handed them over, and stood up to walk away.

One of the men who had also been helping stopped me, taking both of my hands in his, and we shared deep eye contact for a moment, exchanging simple words of mutual gratitude, speechlessly alive together in this collision of crisis, humanity and Grace.

I waited for a pause in the traffic, and then crossed the highway back to my car. I glanced back at the scene of the accident and noticed the young man was being put onto a stretcher and carried to the ambulance.

As soon as I was back inside my car, I felt a big wave of cleansing release move through my entire body, rippling through my emotional body and nervous system… my animal body shaking it off, coughing it off. I was impressed by the efficiency with which my human so simply cleared out the pain, fear and trauma it had presenced. And that was it. I pulled back out onto the highway, and continued onward, driving the remaining 4 hours back home to my children.

There was something incredibly beautiful about this experience that has stayed with me, four days later. The simple words I heard, “You have a role to play here” have penetrated with such poignancy. It was a powerful way to be reminded—through this heightened presence invoked by crisis—that everyone carries different, yet equally necessary gifts.

Thank God for the people who know how to determine whether a car will blow up, or whether there are broken bones, or how to extract valuable objects from an upside-down vehicle, or how to actually save lives.

And since I don’t really know how to do any of those things, I’m so grateful that I do know how to sit with people in their pain and terror; how to help move the weighty burdens of shock and trauma. With all the awkwardness I feel at times in this earthly realm, how honored I am to simply be an angel here… for as long as this fleeting human life allows.

This time of being alive on our planet IS a crisis of sorts. May we notice the reality that there are no strangers, EVER, and that we are all clearly in this together. May we each hear the undeniable clarion call of the heart, announcing that we too have a role to play, and that we are absolutely needed here.