“Knock, And He’ll open the door.
Vanish, And He’ll make you shine like the sun.
Fall, And He’ll raise you to the heavens.
Become nothing, And He’ll turn you into everything.”
When birthing a new workshop, I always experience an initiation that prepares me to hold space for exactly that workshop’s topic. Most recently, this happened as Lee and I worked on the King and Queen retreat, which is designed for people who are ready and willing to take their next steps into both a deeper maturity and the natural generosity of their being.
I had been cruising along on my own journey lately until I was hit by a family loss and a sort of inner tornado that followed from it. My 64-year-old uncle died from cancer, only three weeks after I visited him for the last time in Germany. Four months before, his brother, my other uncle, died, leaving my mom now without any living siblings.
During the same time, I made two trips to the emergency room within three months because of a consistently worsening pain in my chest. As it turned out, my heart was and is totally fine, but the pain persisted and started to majorly zap my energy. I am very proud of being physically strong, and I work out several times a week. So the thought of both not being able to exercise or move freely and continually walking around with a strange pain in my chest didn’t make me happy. I felt helpless with the undiagnosed pain.
On the other side of the globe in Germany, my brother had the burden of organizing everything practical for my uncle’s burial and arranging all logistics of closing out his material life, which he had just done for my other uncle a few months before. He became more and more short tempered and irritated with me, while I felt increasingly guilty and useless. Yet, the thought of flying there for a few days for the funeral felt almost impossible given the excruciating pain in my chest, how physically exhausted I felt, how astronomically expensive it would be, and that I had just been there several weeks earlier.
Making the decision not to go felt like a total defeat to my ego, who thought I should tough it out and storm over there to take the reigns, sort out all practicalities, and tend to everyone’s grieving hearts, all at the same time. Instead I just felt useless and helpless through the many waves of grieving that came. Neither of my uncles had a wife or children, so my mom, my brother, and I were their closest family members. I wanted to keep up my image as “the rock” of my family, but instead I seemed to be plunging into helplessness, neediness, and a daunting fear of death. All things I was not proud of, to say the least.
I continued my daily prayer and meditation practices, but realized I was not really able to open up to these uncomfortable places in me. All I could do was pray for the grace to learn to surrender more deeply to what was happening to me.
I remembered that one of the teachings for the King and Queen workshop is to allow our core wound–the vulnerable place in us that feels separate from the Whole, alienated from God, and helpless to ever change–to be made into a gift. I knew this process could happen only by grace and not by my own effort. So I decided instead of pretending to be strong and offering to help everyone in my family, I would “admit powerlessness” (Sound familiar? Step 1 of any 12 Step program) and tell my family that it was I who needed them–that I felt alone and isolated from them over here in my grief, that I needed reassurance and comfort, and that no, I was not well at all.
Immediately reassurance came flooding in from several members of my German family, who in general do not express love easily. In their way, each of my family members spoke to my aching heart and their words were like healing balm. I felt the love of the Divine speak through every one of them–in their very German way.
When sitting in my meditation that day, after finally admitting my weakness, I could feel strength pouring into me from the Divine, as well. It was not anything I had “achieved” or something I “deserved” because I had been a good seeker. It happened because I gave up trying to be somebody I was not. I had allowed Grace to make my greatest weakness–my need for affection and affirmation from others–into a gift. As soon as I opened my naked vulnerability to Love, I could feel myself relax and breathe again.
Now, I feel so much more open and available to hold space for the brave souls who will journey with us into their deepest heart of hearts at the King and Queen, and any other work I will have the honor of facilitating in the future.
So for you, dear reader, is there a “weakness” that is waiting to be exposed to the light, opened to love, and offered as a gift to others?
Then I invite you to trust our beloved, 13th-century Persian poet friend Rumi who encourages us to “knock, vanish, fall and become nothing” so Love can turn us into everything we truly are.
So much love,