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Video description: “All of us have deeply unhelpful inner voices inside us, dragging us down with criticisms and unfair accusations. Wisdom involves learning how to replace them with more benevolent guides.”

“Things to Do in the Belly of the Whale”
By Dan Albergotti

Measure the walls. Count the ribs. Notch the long days.
Look up for blue sky through the spout. Make small fires
with the broken hulls of fishing boats. Practice smoke signals.
Call old friends, and listen for echoes of distant voices.
Organize your calendar. Dream of the beach. Look each way
for the dim glow of light. Work on your reports. Review
each of your life’s ten million choices. Endure moments
of self-loathing. Find the evidence of those before you.
Destroy it. Try to be very quiet, and listen for the sound
of gears and moving water. Listen for the sound of your heart.
Be thankful that you are here, swallowed with all hope,
where you can rest and wait. Be nostalgic. Think of all
the things you did and could have done. Remember
treading water in the center of the still night sea, your toes
pointing again and again down, down into the black depths.

Having your wounds kissed

“Own Your Own Pain”
by Patricia Roth Schwartz

Own your own pain.
Why not? It’s yours.

You’ve hawked it, pushed it, pimped it –
now,

Your body, breathing, life, guts, luster,
sweetness, softness,
pays the price.

So own your own pain. Why not?

You’ve eaten it for breakfast,
Sung it to sleep at night,
Rinsed it out in the basin,
Watched it rise with the bread.

So- take it, turn it,
Let it slither,
Into blood-beat, breast-bone, cell-song,
skin.

Give it a name.
What you possess
Cannot possess you.

“What does it mean to hold space for someone else? It means that we are willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. When we hold space for other people, we open our hearts, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgement and control.”

Read the full, lovely piece What it means to “hold space” for people, plus eight tips on how to do it well by Heather Plett.

“I don’t think pain goes away. I think we make room for it. With time, love, forgiveness, and healing, it eventually takes up less room. Not until then, are we able to fill up that space with a sense of peace and joy in our heart and soul.”

–Brigitte Nicole

“The Journey”
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

“Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness – mine, yours, ours – need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.”

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer

Listening to some lovely cello music (thanks, Tom Cole) as a quiche bakes in the oven, when the doorbell rings, surprising me on a Sunday morning. Two girls have come collecting donations of food. After dashing back into the kitchen, I hand each a can. “God bless you!” says one brightly.

There was a time when I would have bristled at such a comment, finding it overly religious (What if I were an atheist? I’m not.) or too monotheistic (What if I were a polytheist? I am.).

Growing up, I experienced a lot of toxicity from religion. Dictums such as “Honor thy father and they mother” were used to silence. And there was no equivalent of “Don’t rape and abuse thy children” to serve in my defense. But none of that seems relevant in the simple exchange at my front door.

Much like sea glass, I’ve found that time and therapy have worn smooth many of my sharp edges. And while I personally believe that the Divine cannot be distilled into any single representation, I also believe in good intentions.

I smile and wave at the two young women as they depart, thanking them for their volunteer work. Closing the front door, I found myself smiling. Maybe I received a blessing after all.

“Would you like to save the world from the degradation and destruction it seems destined for? Then step away from shallow mass movements and quietly go to work on your own self-awareness. If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”

–Lao Tzu