Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
|A wise therapist, Dr. John Small, once said to me “trust the process.” We discussed that, what it means, and he said it over and over as long as he was my teacher. Today, on Global Spirit (7/8/15, Link TV) a Sufi teacher said “A real question opens one’s heart and mind and makes one come alive. The question is more important than the answer. It is a process rather than a location.” He said this in a discussion titled “What is God?” The interviewees agreed that real pain is separation from the creator and its relief is found in reconnecting. As I understand it, they suggest that compassion is needed to restore that connection. Later in the discussion, someone said; “Compassion only exists in relationship to suffering. Opposition is necessary for the real creation to take place. We need both the opposition and help to deal with the struggle.”
My impression after listening to this discussion is, Suffering is separation from God. Without suffering, we would not notice our need to be one with our creator. Without separation from our creator, we would be unable to understand suffering. Compassion is learning how to reconnect by reaching out to assist in someone else’s suffering. Sitting with our own pain opens our spirit to grace and to our need to connect with others.
As a young Lutheran child, I sometimes attended church with my maternal grandparents. They took great pleasure in taking me with them and exhibited pride in me when they introduced me to their friends. They taught me how to use the hymnal, when to stand and sit, and the importance of doing the rituals together. This was very positive. It felt good to be with them, to have them teach me, to be treated as though I was special and important. When I was not with them, when I was in my ordinary daily life with my parents and brothers, neighbors and friends, and school, I often felt differently than when I was in church with them. I often felt separate, like an outsider. I developed an image of myself that described the feeling of separateness. I saw myself as an eye embedded in the earth, watching all that was within range of my vision, unable to interact or participate in any way. I wanted to see, but also, I wanted to participate. The rituals of church helped with that, but as I matured in my spiritual life, I needed more than ritual.
I decided as a young adolescent, around age 12 or 13 to talk to my pastor about this. Developmentally, it is normal to have spiritual awakening, new spiritual questions at that age. In the Bible, Jesus separated from his family while traveling and sat with the priests. So, I went to my Pastor and told him I wanted to be a minister. His response was that I couldn’t because I am female. Boom! There I was back in my eye with power only to see, but not participate. Another adolescent trait, all or nothing thinking. This challenge, this experience of separateness was not going to be fixed by ordination. I had to learn something else. And so, I became a Social Worker. For me, it was not a career choice alone. It was entering into a process to resolve my spiritual separateness.
The conversation today clarified something for me. Since Social Work is not a religious activity, how did it serve to help me with my spiritual need? It is the central role of compassion in Social Work that addresses the spiritual need for connection, not so much with others, as you might think, but with the creator. However, it is much more than that too. Watching and participating in healing is such a wonderful thing. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than that. Healing is the entry of grace into the being that receives it. Healing is not limited to humans, but instead, is universal among living things, and perhaps in the mineral world as well.
I have never reached a stopping place with this process. I cannot imagine a stopping place exists. In this way, I agree that the process is all there is, and, that in trusting it, I can participate in healing and through this, receive grace.