Loving the Broken Places

April 25th, 2011

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”  -Ernest Hemingway

I am coming to love my brokenness or at least I am coming to allow it the space it needs.  I am not ashamed of the fear that blinds me or makes it hard to sit still with the uncertainty and disappointment of the moment.  I am learning to look at my weaknesses as a friend, or at least a teacher.  It is freeing and challenging all at once and my mood is unpredictable,  certainly not a measure of any truth.

This is the most challenging part of learning from the broken places. It is so uncomfortable that we want to call it by name.  We want to identify it and place blame so appropriate measures can be taken. I am trying to get over the urge to be rid of these tenuous places, where the cracks beneath my feet are clearly visible and there is no ground to hang onto.

Financial worries, relationship ills,  work stalls all can easily trigger the broken spaces. Fixating on the story line is one way that the mind tries to get control of the situation. We repeat what happened, or at least our memory of what happened, as though it can explain away the feelings of unworthiness, shame and despair that linger. Actually the story only cements the feelings into us. It becomes hard to tell what is story line and what is real.

The discomfort with the unknowable is the most universal of all fears. It defines the human race and the myriad of dysfunctional behaviors that we employ to try to control, avoid and numb ourselves.  Perhaps the most powerful shift that meditation practice has cultivated in me is the skill to bear witness to the fear for moments at a time.

Learning how to pay attention to the storm cloud of fear and the associated feelings that climb aboard has shown me the truth to how little substance fear has. We make it real in all our methods of avoiding feeling it. But the feelings will just pass by if you can watch them and not connect them to any stories or identities.

This is a moment to moment occupation when I am in the worst of it. The familiar patterns of story, blame, and avoidance feel like a warm blanket compared to the icy chill of just staying put in the storm. Try it a few times and then you realize how much strength we sacrifice to bad thinking habits.  We are so much more worthy than that.  It is a true practice of positivity and courage.

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