A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Damaged and undamaged

I read a poem by Mary Oliver today that I had never read before. It evoked a sense of the strange harmony between the damaged and undamaged regions within each of us. Here is the poem-




Mysteries, Yes


Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.




How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.


How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.


How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.




Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.


Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.


(from the book Evidence, 2009)


I have noticed a tendency within myself to hide, minimize, and avoid any sense of hurt or damage. My vanity wants to be flawlessly spiritual and joyful. But lately I"m more interested in honesty and courage and facing with kindness the pain within myself and others. I'm interested in integrating the long rejected feelings, swallowing them in the mouth of nonjudgmental awareness and love.

Mary Oliver notes that both delight and the scars of damage attract a person to the comfort of a poem. On one level, or from one perspective, I have been damaged and I have inflicted damage. On the temporal plane, who has never been damaged or inflicted damage?

It is our universal lot. Yet from another perspective, on another level, every being is wholly inviolate, undamaged, intact. The paradox is that opposite facts are simultaneously true.

Today I'm interested in a new relationship with painful memories when they arise. It is possible to be a space of loving acceptance for what arises. This is something I am learning very, very slowly and gently.

Planted here in the undamaged wholeness of reality, a reconciliation occurs as feelings of shame and damage come out of hiding and are not banned but received. It's time to end the internal holocaust where unflattering feelings were sent to the gas chambers. Let the damaged and undamaged regions within enjoy a mysterious harmony.

(Note: Thank you to Fred Lamotte of yourradiance.blogspot for post 3/25/10 about embracing and honoring wounds and disabilities, which led to these reflections.)

~

5 comments:

roseduncan said...

I really can relate to this post Colleen. There are a lot of feelings we keep at bay in order to make it through our day, our week, our month, our life. Very hard to learn how to live with what we've denied feeling. Very hard to know how to move on while accepting that whatever damage has been wrought is a part of us.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Naomi, I'm glad to read your words and feel less alone with this sense of keeping feelings at bay in order to get through life. There's this sense of strangling off part of my experience, and I want to stop repressing things but am not sure how. The question of how to be present with pain, my own and other's, continues. Thanks for your words.

Cindy said...

Thanks for this post Colleen. I really liked the poem and your reflections. Oh! I see a cardinal on a tree outside my window! Ah, now he swooped away at a gallop. The birds are loving this after-rainy-night morning. I am amazed watching spring unravel on the land. I have a perfect view. I am grateful. ... Back to the post. I also liked the gas chamber imagery of what happens to unflattering feelings. So true.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Cyn- I love that a cardinal swooped into your comment! There's a thrilling spontaneity in the upwelling of each moment. I am becoming more aware of how my inner violence is one continuum with the outer violence in the world. I rationalize my inner violence and think I'm whipping myself into shape with self-criticism, or paying for my mistakes by punishing myself with self-criticism. Inner nuttiness and outer nuttiness...There are many rationalizations for wars and other outer violence as well. Let's take the lid off the boiling brew of psychic turmoil and world turmoil and bring it under the soft light of awareness...Thanks for your comments Cindy.

Cindy said...

Like a fractal. :)

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Greetings. I am a psychiatrist working at a state hospital, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at University of Missouri Medical School. I am also a wife and mother of three grown children. Qigong has profoundly changed my life for the better. I am interested in connecting with other people interested in qigong.

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