Lessons from a Hurricane (4)

Lessons from a Hurricane (4)

First Responses

 On my way home after the ‘hurricane’ first blew through my life, I found myself wanting a stiff drink! Now, that is not my usual way of dealing with tough times!I went home and ate ice cream instead!

ice cream and spoon

 

 

 

In a perfect world I would have recognized that reaction right away as an early warning sign that the hurricane had been substantial. I was retreating to old childhood patterns of coping in difficult circumstances. I didn’t drink whiskey as a child but I sure ate a lot of ice cream, cake, cookies and popcorn! Clearly something had been touched inside me at a very deep level.empty ice cream

Do you know your childhood responses in difficult circumstances? It is really helpful to become knowledgeable about them. Simply name them, not judging, usually with compassion for your little child who was hurting. Get to know them so you can see when you’re being reactive like a 5 or 10 year old.

Some of our common childhood responses:

  • Eating
  • Pouting
  • Going silent
  • Hiding
  • Shouting

And what they might look like as we’ve refined them in our adulthood……

  • Eating
    • We may still eat, or not eat, as well as drink to excess or any other selection of drugs/stimulants/depressants. We can be quite creative.
    • We can also overwork, over exercise, over shop, over play, over-a-whole host of things.
  • Pouting
    • An adult pout can appear as soft or very strong passive/aggressive behaviour: ‘Oh—did I forget to…..’ or a very strong controlling action to stop someone else.
  • Going silent
    • We’re capable of being silent for long periods of time. It may be verbal silence but can also be emotional silence or withdrawal.
  • Hiding
    • We may not slip off to a bedroom closet to hide but we can find our caves, our offices, our gyms, our work, our long walks, our games and TV shows to disappear into. Again we can also hide our emotions and not allow them to be available. We can become unwilling to be ‘found’ in the game of hide and seek.
  • Shouting
    • Sometimes we still shout! Sometimes in a private place that feels very good, but in company, letting our anger loose on someone isn’t helpful. We need to do repair work when that happens.

These are some of childhood reactions that I know. Do you have some to add?

May we all be more aware of them and kinder to ourselves when they are triggered. Take it as an opportunity to find someone who is safe, who can hear your wounds and help heal them.

Anne

Community Leader (Canada) Contemplative Fire

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Lesson from a Hurricane (3) – Changing Soul Windows

Lesson from a Hurricane (3) – Changing Soul Windows

Sometimes the storm windows and screens of my childhood home were really difficult to weather imagechange. Each was carefully numbered and some were labelled, such as ‘Anne’s Room’, and they were always neatly lined up in the store room, but sometimes my father would struggle with getting them into place. Perhaps it was as simple as I had moved rooms so clearly ‘Anne’s Room’ designation didn’t work anymore. I wasn’t there any longer. Sometimes it was as if the house itself had changed shape over the season.

As we move through our lives, as we mature and change, the shape of our Soul Windows may change too.

The force of The Hurricane helped me look at the shape and substance of my soul. Some Basic Soul Questions emerge:  What gives me life? What drains me? What are my gifts? How might I offer them to God for goodness in the world?

As I wrestled with these basic questions I realized that my soul was experiencing my father’s seasonal struggle.  I both had changed rooms and my soul was changing shape. My job had changed and I was different. I spent many months trying to force a window into a frame into which it didn’t belong. Lots of hammering. Lots of noise. Lots of stress. Lots of pain.

Does that sound familiar to you? Is it a time in your life to ask those basic Soul Questions and ask God for the wisdom of where you belong? My belief is that we all have a place where we belong, where we are needed, where we can contribute to goodness, to peace and justice in the world. Sometimes we need to change places. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be changed.

God’s blessings to you as you examine your Soul Windows.

Anne

Community Leader (Canada) Contemplative Fire

Lessons from a Hurricane – Closing Soul Windows

Lessons from a Hurricane (2)

Closing Soul Windows

weather imageI remember from my childhood how each fall, my father would carefully take down the screens and put up the storm windows. Each window was numbered and fit only one window of our home. It was a pre-winter ritual to protect us from the storms ahead. All winter long, as the cold winds blew outside, we were protected. The summer screens were carefully stored in their numbered order waiting for gentle winds to return.Last week we considered the expression ‘soul windows’. In my early life I learned to protect myself, to move very carefully through life. To some degree I think that’s normal for us all, however for me it went to an extreme. It was as if my soul lived in perpetual winter with the storms on and shutters closed. Summer screens seldom were used.

I have spent many of my adult years discovering and nurturing my soul life. A portion of that time has been spent opening my soul windows so I could receive what others, both Divine and human had to give me. I have come to value deeply those moments of receiving.

The Hurricane that blew through my world reminded me that I also have to learn to put the storm windows on my soul.windy face Sometimes they need to be partially shut, other times fully shut. This closing is very different from the closing that I developed as a child. It is intentional and temporary. I chose when and for how long. Sometimes I might even chose to remain open as a winter wind blows – but I’m aware of what I’m doing.

Some thoughts on closing soul windows:

  • Sometimes it requires a physical withdrawal from a conversation, a place or an action. The removal may be very short, could be longer, or it could lead to a discernment that something needs to be finished, to be drawn to completion.
  • Sometimes a space-creating word needs be spoken, ‘Okay. Let me think about that.’ I realize I don’t need to respond to everything right away. In fact there is a lot that doesn’t require my automatic, rather reactive responses.
  • Sometimes it requires an observation of the interior disruption. How wonderful when I can catch one of those moments and observe how I’ve been thrown off my centre. Just catch and observe.
  • Sometimes it involves an intentional decision to move to a place of Deep Listening. Most often, for me, this takes place afterward as I listen deeply to my soul and what it is saying to me. This often involves sharing with another and allowing them to listen to my soul often with ears that I don’t have.

The day the Hurricane struck I didn’t have any of those responses. I simply found myself a bit like Dorothy sucked up into the wind and blown into a new land, a land I didn’t like very much. In retrospect I see more clearly that my soul has windows and I have choices. As much as I seek to be open to what is around me, there are times when I need to close the windows partly or completely. Often called ‘setting boundaries’ – it is both helpful and healing.

Are your soul windows open appropriately or inappropriately? What ways have you found to take care of yourself in a healthy and healing way?

There are seasons to be open and seasons to be closed.

As we move into a new week – God alone knows what weather systems we will encounter! May we open and close our soul windows with wisdom and care.

Peace in the midst of all…

Anne

Community Leader (Canada) Contemplative Fire

Lessons from A Hurricane

Lessons from A Hurricane

One day I arrived at work and it was as if a hurricane blew through my life. Everything was in upheaval. The external arrangements at work were changing. What we did and how we did it was suddenly altered. My place within the organization was changed. The hurricane also scattered my interior world. It was as if I’d left the windows of my home open and the wind had uprooted trees, torn off the shutters, and scattered my papers and belongings around the house. Disruption arrived.

Can you relate? When have you had a ‘hurricane’ blow through your life?

In the following weeks which turned into months, I sought to restore order both to my external and internal world. I offer you a series of reflections entitled ‘Lessons from the Hurricane’. The first is…

Soul Windows

open windowWhen I arrived at work that day it was, within my soul, balmy and mild – a lovely summer day. My soul windows were wide open, welcoming all who came my way.

Thich Nhat Hanh uses that expression to describe the openness of our being to what is around us – to the TV shows, the internet, the advertising, the conversations, the interactions with strangers, friends, colleagues and family. And yes, we want to be open, but open wisely for sometimes we need to close our windows. Sometimes, during a TV program, or work project, or conversation,  when we can feel the loss of peace within us, it’s time to close a bit. We are to “Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.” (Colossians 3.15).

That sense of peace is my known experience. I’ve come to value it deeply. When the hurricane blew, I lost my sense of interior peace.  I lived for the next few months rarely knowing interior peace. It was like crossing a rushing river with stepping stones. Occasionally I’d find a solid moment till the next rush unsettled me. One day from a scripture study in Colossians I was reminded that peace was to be my lived experience. It is the gift God gives to us when our lives are reconciled with the Divine.  We are at Peace with our Maker and that peace is to permeate our daily life. That awareness from the scripture study was like a hand reaching out to rescue me. I sought to grasp that hand and decided that nothing is more valuable than recovering the Peace that is God’s gift to me.

One lesson for me from the hurricane has been a deeper awareness that I have ‘soul windows’.  I am responsible for both opening and closing my windows. Next time more about healthy ways to close soul windows.

What does the expression ‘soul window’ mean to you?

Peace crossing the river…

Anne

Community Leader Canada

Contemplative Fire