The most difficult stranger to welcome

drawing of woman looking into a mirror

“Maybe the most difficult stranger to welcome is the one who lives inside us.” ~Mirabai Starr, from God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

How do you deal with those parts of yourself that you don’t like? It’s only through welcoming them in that we have the opportunity to transform them.

How could you better welcome the stranger inside of you?

 

Art work credit: https://pixabay.com/en/woman-art-abstract-vintage-girl-2068125/

What makes compassion real

two people's hands holding one another in a comforting pose

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~Pema Chödrön

True compassion requires that we be present with all of people, including their darkness, which often shows itself most strongly when they are afraid and in pain. To do that, we must get to know our own darkness and develop compassion for that part of ourselves first. It’s the hardest kind of compassion to develop, but it’s one of the gifts available to us through kintsugi living.

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Be grateful for whoever comes

an open doorway in stone wall looking through to sky and trees

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
~Rumi

Oh, how hard we try to edit out of our experience all that we find to be unpleasant, unacceptable, or uncomfortable. We push those things into our shadow and try to pretend that they don’t exist.

But those uncomfortable parts of our experience have much to teach us if we would but welcome them in and be ready to learn from what we find there. It is only by bringing our shadows into the light that they surrender their healing gifts.

What parts of your experience need to be invited in, greeted with laughter, and allowed to guide you into growth and healing?

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Dandelions

dandelions

I have a love-hate relationship with dandelions.

I love them when they first appear in early spring. Their little yellow faces peeking out from every available patch of green make me smile with delight in the return of Spring and color to the Earth. Their tenacity and fierce determination to thrive under any and every possible condition encourages me.

There is something so amazing about a common weed that can be found everywhere that is both delicious to eat and incredibly good for me! If our lawns weren’t so contaminated with chemicals, I’d have an abundance of healthy food for weeks.

And then they go to seed … and I remember why I hate them.

My yard suddenly looks like an abandoned lot within hours after I mow it, as the blooms morph from cheerful yellow smiley faces to angry white mushroom clouds sending out their spores far and wide. This transformation always seems to happen overnight and catch me completely unaware.

Suddenly I find myself out stomping about the yard trying to dig up each one of them (root and all) only to notice that they have now also taken over my flower beds, the cracks in the flagstone patio, the patches of groundcover, and even the stone covered walkways. I become like an avenging angel of death in my attempt to get every last one of them, even as I know it’s a battle that is doomed to failure before I even start.

The abundance of rain the last few days is making it a bit easier than normal to get even the roots of each of these weeds as I pull them up. This makes the whole process a bit less painful than it is some years.

However, as I’ve gone about my attack on the dandelions this year, it’s prompting me to ponder the fact that so often in life the very thing we may admire about someone or something (the tenacity of dandelions) is the very same thing that later grates on our nerves about that same someone or something (they are taking over my flower beds).

I know I am guilty of forgetting the benefit of a given attribute (that was often the initial attraction) once I become aware of the shadow side of that attribute. I want the benefit without the cost, but life doesn’t work that way. Everyone and everything has its bright side and its shadow, and these are inextricably connected because the light and the shadow are so often the very same thing.

I think it may be worth taking a moment to make sure I see both the light and the shadow in any trait I notice in myself and others for a bit. It may help me to be a bit less impatient with the shadow sides I encounter.

After all, even dandelions have their bright yellow faces and their healthy, delicious greens. If I can find a bright side there, surely I can find it in myself and in others too.