“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up… A chord of three strands is not easily broken.” Ephesians 4:9-10, 12
I first experienced the tremendous healing power of a group when working with kids at the wellness center a few years ago. There were 10 kids in the room ranging from 7 – 12. They were all girls and the other thing they had in common was that cancer was affecting their life. One day a 9-year-old girl was lying on her mat, too sick from her treatment to participate in the yoga. Another girl made a comment that it wasn’t fair that she wasn’t doing it. Her older sister shot up like a rocket and leaned way into the other girl’s space and said, “It’s because she’s got cancer!” Another young girl in a quiet and sad voice said, “my dad just died from cancer,” and one more girl spoke up to say, “My dad died last year from cancer.” I threw my plan out the window and used the next hour to bring to light the elephant in the room. When I first began volunteering there, I was determined to provide a fun distraction from the cancer. I tried not to mention the “C” word unless one of the kids brought it up, and they rarely did, because they were happy to get a break form it.
We began to pretend our minds were televisions and we each held our remote and practiced pushing pause, we turned in to focus on the unchanging light within each one of our hearts. We paused to breathe deeply and exhale away the tension and fear and sadness we shared. The light inside of each of our hearts seemed to be connected to our loved ones and together it was stronger. The children identified what was hard about cancer and suddenly they didn’t feel so alone in their pain and it loosened its grip, jut a bit. I explained that every person in that room had the cancer channel on their T.V. It is a hard place to wait. It’s helpful to remember, but also important not to stay too long in the place of sadness. We have the power to push pause or change the channel at any moment. The children were invited to remember a precious memory from the past, a happy day or moment, before cancer showed up. You could see the smiles on the kids’ faces as they remembered when life was “normal.” The kids learned how important it is to remember our loved ones with gratitude, for this is how they live on in our hearts. We can turn our remote controls to a place of happy remembering whenever we want, but be careful not to stay too long there either. We have to live in the present moment and work in each moment to carry the light of those we have loved and lost out into the world. Today, in the midst of being too close to cancer, I remember that group with profound gratitude because it helped me name my own grief and fear around the disease.
The next time I found myself in a group that rocked my world was a “Listen to My Life” personal story mapping group. Seven of us met weekly in a friend’s living room for over a year to unpack our stories and begin to recognize and reflect back to one another the work that God has been doing in our lives from the beginning. Sometimes we miss the forest through the trees and we need caring eyes and loving gazes in the dark places of confusion and shame. It is so transformative to have love in the valleys and company all along the journey. As we entered into the intimate places of our stories together our compassion and love grew beyond what we could have hoped for or imagined. We began to recognize universal themes of humanity that felt so personal until we noticed them threaded through the fibers of other stories at the table. Dan Allender said, “We can’t see our face unless it’s reflected back in the face of another.” The mirroring and attunement that happened at that table changed my brain and my life. I healed in deep places that I didn’t even realize I was broken in. To offer this gift of sacred community and hold safe containers of care is one of the primary missions of SOW that…
I also sat in a circle with 86 others at a woman’s retreat this week. It was a beautiful space filled with courageous and blessed women. After spending an hour moving and breathing and praying with our mind, body and Spirit, you could feel a lightness and beauty and ease floating through that space. The women did a guided meditation in which they scanned their bodies for the clenched fist and places they were still clinging tightly and were invited to let go and breathe life and blessing into every fiber of their beings. They turned to face another person in the circle and for just 3 minutes were asked to share their hearts and then practice listening from the heart. After that exercise each woman checked out with a word, the harvest of blessing that they would take back into their daily walk. It was holy and beautiful and affirmed the profound need and value of community. We spend our lives serving and giving and doing, but the time has come for us to cultivate a pause, to be still and allow loving eyes to rest upon us. We must show up for ourselves and come to the table of blessing, to be seen, known and loved. If this is what your heart needs, please click the link to sign up for our “Lighten UP – wellness group” starting this month.
"Knowledge is power. Community is strength & positive attitude is everything.”