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Resilient Courage

Resilient You, some days just don’t feel resilient at all. Some days the wounds of our story affect the way we think, feel, breathe. The rough stuff of life affects our deepest Self – it reaches right to our soul.

Care for our souls isn’t always top-of-mind. For some of us, the religious connotation of the word is enough to send us reeling with triggers and memories. But she’s in there – our deepest, most authentic, most true-to-us Self. She needs as much tenderness as the rest of our being.

Parker Palmer says, “The soul is like a wild animal—tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek.” (Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life)

Are you tending to your “wild animal” Self? She may be hard to recognize if she’s been in hiding for a while…or forever. The thought of coaxing the soul out of hiding may feel overwhelming and scary: what will happen if I wake up the deepest parts of myself? Am I safe?

The wounds we bear from trauma can act like a violent act of nature, re-routing us into a life course that feels unfair, dangerous, broken. Facing into that violence is frightening. So Truest Self shrinks into isolation and invisibility, inoculating herself as best she can from further suffering. It’s almost like we fall asleep to entire parts of ourselves as we numbly attempt to tend, tend, tend to the wounds of our hearts and minds and bodies. Those wounds can be so painful and messy that we might lose the heart and energy needed to feel past their searing disruption and into the Self that is beneath them.

That frightened-into-hiding Soul that is longing for belonging, and safety, and some kind of power in her own life.

But our soul is where Hope lives. A very little time spent “sitting at the base of a tree” and coaxing her out has a healing effect on the rest of our traumatized selves.

I wonder what it might be like for us to think about showing a little compassion to our Souls? What does that even look like? Feel like? How do we begin to think-see-feel past the wounding of trauma and get to know the Self that has been buried beneath it?

What if I:

  • Make friends with silence. Sit in silence. What happens there? What do I feel? Could my soul have some things she’d like to say?
  • Think my thoughts. My deep thoughts. Not the surface-y, “I just have to get through this day!” freaked-out thoughts, but my, “I wonder what my life has to offer me? I wonder what my life has to offer a hurting world?” thoughts.
  • Or don’t think my thoughts. What if I sit in silence without any expectation or demand on myself. Could I be so very kind to my weary self, patiently inviting my deepest Goodness to wake up and offer a shifting perspective on what life is all about?
  • Read poetry…slowly.
  • Actually sit at the base of a tree, or by a river, or anywhere that undisturbed Nature is in sight. She has a way of touch-healing my wounds in ways that my endless thinking and striving cannot.
  • Find a listener who is comfortable with pauses and stillness and waiting for my story to come alive.
  • Tell my stories. To that really good listener. To someone who will hold them sacredly and patiently.

What else? When you (take a deep breath in, hold, let it go) consider (just even toy with the idea) of inviting your soul out of hiding, what comes to mind as, “Hmmmm. I wonder if I could do more of ___________…”? There’s no gold star to earn here. Just a gentle invitation to our souls to come out into the open. To be seen. To be known. To live free.

May we have the courage today

To live the life that we would love

To postpone our dreams no longer

But do at last what we came here for

And waste our heart on fear no more…

~J O’Donahue~

 

submitted by Sandra McDonald

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