Image / Dusit Panyakhom
This time of the year, this period in May, tends to be a provocative one for me. Looking back over several years, mid-May has consistently held some disturbance, some drastic surprise, some wounding ache or break of the heart. And so, when I looked at the calendar early in the week, a small part of me thought "I wonder what I'll know at the end of this week that I don't know right now". Because, you know, curious anticipation is way more fun than dread!
A few days later, while making my afternoon tea, the phone rang. An old love, long estranged and now in recovery, was making amends. Would I listen? And then it was gifted to me. The thing we have all had occasion to want and to wish for and to hope for...and to give up hoping for. The magic spell that is a clear and thoughtful, heartfelt and insightful apology.
'I did this, and that, and this too. I know it hurt you. I know it hurt others around us, too. I wish I could have shown up for you like this instead. I get it, I see it, I understand now. I'm so sorry.' And just like that, my heart and breath became larger, freer.
Here's the thing - I'd done my work and my forgiving here long ago. Mostly because I value happiness and sanity, and grudge-holding is a serious impediment to both. But being open to take in this amends offered me a release from pain I didn't even know I still carried. At different points, we were both crying. The truth is alive no matter when you find it. And there was laughter too. Any deep letting go, the sweet space that brings, can't help but invite a little joy right in.
It takes such vulnerability to show up with one another and say "I was unskillful. I was dishonest. I was cruel. I was greedy. I was afraid. I was wrong". It takes such vulnerability to open our minds and hearts (and keep them open) to another willing to do this. It's a tender, tremulous, very alive place to be. And it's powerful medicine when we can do this for one another. Do we still need discernment in these relationships? Absolutely. Do these moments mean we should reconcile, or reincorporate this person into our lives? Often that's not where wisdom will lead us. But if we keep breathing and listen, wisdom does lead us.
After ending the call, I spent some time appreciating the ways that relationship grew me. And I spent some time marveling at how, from this place, everything that happened back then feels much like playing on the blacktop at recess in grade school:
There's the joy in the freedom to go out and play, the excitement of the game, the alliances built among the team and the fights that divide them, the skinned knees and bruised elbows, the giggles and the "no fair!"'s, the flushed cheeks and sweaty foreheads...and everybody walking back to class, tired and happy, when it's over. I've heard it said many times before and haven't always resonated with it, but what I know deeply right now that I didn't know so clearly at the start of the week is this:
"We are all just walking each other home."
Dana Wyss Healing Arts
Breathe deeply, practice often, be well.
* This famous phrase is attributed to Ram Dass and Paul Gorman in "How Can I Help?"