Reflection – August 2022
Lately I’ve been aware of being immersed in life’s polarities, experiencing both positive and negative events, good and bad news, hope and disappointment, joy and sorrow, and much more. Most often we live on a teeter-totter of experience and emotion, dipping one way or the other even though we long to have a balance. The challenge this presents is how to live within that duality. I still remember Jungian psychologist Marion Woodman saying that our transformation lies in how we respond to living amid the dichotomy of opposing energies.
I discovered this again when going to spend a morning at the Des Moines river, a site that most always lends itself as a source of calming renewal. On that particular day I parked by the river and went to take my daily walk. I had no sooner started on the path bordered by woods when I became alarmed, seeing how a huge machine had stripped off every bush and plant on both sides of the path. Above this wide devastation, the tree branches had been splintered and gashed. Large gouges on tree trunks revealed the bark ruthlessly scraped off. I felt such pain for Earth’s aliveness being attacked in such a callous manner.
When I returned to the river, I plunked down in my canvas chair, feeling disheartened. Gradually I noticed a change in my spirit. The constant flow of the water, majestic blue-feathered herons in flight, cheery calls of songbirds, and a gentle breeze sailing puffy white clouds eased my distress and opened an inner door to serenity. This emotional shift gave me much to ponder. It led me to accept that life does not only offer an easy morning by a meandering river. It includes unwanted events and situations that tear apart and diminish who and what I hold dear, whether this be human or nonhuman life.
As so often happens, when I find myself standing before a challenging reality, divine Wisdom gifts my spirit with just what I need to enter into and accept what is difficult. This time it was by my coming across the song “Oh Grief, Oh Joy” by Debbie Nargi-Brown. The first lines of the lyrics immediately drew me toward an understanding and a desired acceptance of living among the opposites:
Oh Grief, Oh Joy! Held in the very rhythm of my beating heart. Oh Grief, Oh Joy! May you come together so I won’t fall apart.
As if this was not enough to soothe and strengthen the revelation of the dualities being essential for personal growth, I then opened to the “Peace” prayer in Edwina Gateley’s Soul Whispers. Edwina first describes “human pain and suffering.” She follows by noting how this is not all there is to life, reminding the reader that each of us has “a silent harbor—a dark secret place / to which everyone of us / (would we be aware) / has freedom of access. / It is a small but powerful space, / a still-point, / waiting for recognition / and habitation.”
So it is that we enter daily into the teeter-totter of life, being moved this way and that by what is beyond our control, yet knowing we have this “silent harbor” to keep us steady as we meet what travels through our days. When we encounter the opposites we can grow wiser, stronger, deeper, and truer to the best our ability to be loving human beings. May it be so.
Abundant peace, Joyce Rupp