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'Tis the Season
As the Holidays approach, I wanted to pen you a light and happy letter about this being the season to be hopeful, to give generously, love openly, and all kinds of sweet nothings. But, the truth is, I'm having a hard time being light and happy. I am nothing if not authentic, so rather than fake my way through a sugar-coated note, I'm gonna just speak from my heart.
A lot of people I love feel weary and afraid. This especially brutal election season has been divisive and cruel and has left deep, painful wounds. As a society, we tend to dislike public displays of sadness, fear, confusion, or depression. We are very much prone to encourage people to "get over it" during painful times. Maybe it's because their pain holds a mirror up to the places we'd rather not acknowledge. But rather than rush these uncomfortable feelings, let's all just get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
It's said, "Storms make trees take deeper roots." If I reflect on the times in my life when I have been most heartbroken, I remember that it was after those times, I felt most clear. Somehow the cracks had forged a more perfectly imperfect me. When your foundation is shaken, you are forced to evaluate those things that make you and those things that don't. Grief clarifies. Pain fortifies. Sadness excavates.
I have spent my entire adult life working to help make others feel safe, seen, worthy, and important because I know, intimately, what it feels like to be afraid, to feel unworthy, to feel hopelessly on the outside. City Gym is the embodiment of that ministry.
In light of recent events; Standing Rock, Aleppo, an uptick in hate based crimes, something in me died. My flame burns a little less bright. I don't say that dramatically, but it is a matter of fact. The hate and the hurt and the vitriol stamped out a bit of my hope--hope which has served as a life raft for me and others in the darkest moments. But, rather than rush from the sadness, I'm gonna be with it. I'm going to let it clarify me, mold me. I would encourage you to be with your sadness too.
In Judaism, shiva is the week long mourning following a loved one's death. The word, "Shiva" means seven, signifying the seven day mourning period. Rabbi Joel Simonds reminds us that, "after seven days of shiva we stand up, we emerge from the dark, we do not have to accept, we do not have to move on, but we stand up."
Take heed this holiday season, on your metaphorical seventh day, you will rise. You will take time for mourning and grieving and then you will stand up--clarified, changed, a more perfectly imperfect, you.
I will finish with a verse from a poem, left for me by someone very special. "This world is far from perfect. There's conflict and there's strife. But you can still make a difference, by how you live your life." Simple and honest wisdom that I have come to live my life by.
Wishing you and your loved ones deep peace and abiding love this holiday season.