Moving Beyond Alienation
The sounds of water flowing and harp strings playing along with a slideshow of river images greeted participants as they entered the room.Coming from the excitement of lunch conversations and the impact of the morning presentation, the sounds and images changed the charged attention of the participants to one of quiet wonderment.The water imagery, mostly of flowing rivers, was the focus of the first part of this break-out session.
The diversity and strength of nature’s impact upon the flow of a river mirrors life’s flow upon our personal reality.Imaging the soul’s journey as that of a river flowing from God to God, we asked what happened to the flow when you added “church” to the imagery.This was followed with looking at the imagery of the flow with “church;” what feelings arose?Finally knowing the flow of their soul’s journey and the feeling “church” created within, we asked if the “church” was helping them grow closer to God, or were they in some way being hindered.
With discussion around each image and time to ponder and write, participants gained a clearer insight to see more clearly the role “church” was or was not playing in their life.The question faced by each participant was “Am I able to look at my feelings right now about the ‘church’ and regarding these feelings, accept it with compassion?”Instead of giving energy to anger, fear, isolation, withdrawal or resentment, one can experience the freedom and spiritual transformation which Radical Acceptance brings to one’s life.With this awareness one can meet each ongoing life experience from an inner self of wholeness, wisdom, and love.This is our deepest nature, the very self Jesus calls forth to actively evolve into the new consciousness emerging in the “church” today.
To help make theoretical real, Bonnie Strand shared her journey from alienation, isolation and withdrawal of the introvert into the transformative, active, wise and outspoken role she now plays within the “church.” It did not happen overnight or with ease, but from prayer and meditation emerged an inner awareness that the “church” she loved and was
part of her was desperately under siege and needed her voice to help the emergence of a new consciousness. In accepting herself and the “church” she found voice to speak out from a place of prophetic insight and enduring love to those needing to hear her words.
Pat Walsh who had been weaving the first part of the process together spoke on a more personal note about Radical Acceptance.It is an unfolding into wholeness.Rather than trying to vanquish waves of emotion and rid ourselves of an inherently impure self, we turnaround and embrace this life in all its realness—broken, messy, mysterious and vibrantly alive.By cultivating an unconditional and accepting presence we are no longer battling against ourselves, keeping our wild and imperfect selves in a cage of judgment and mistrust.Instead we are discovering the freedom of becoming authentic and fully alive.
Having been raped by a priest in her twenties Pat buried the experience so deeply that it did not emerge into her consciousness until she was in her late fifties.As she later said “ I was not raped by the church, or a priest, but a man,an emotional cripple in need of his own healing.” It was awareness, acceptance, and forgiveness that enabled her to move from a place of denial into an open acceptance for her life in all of its many unfolding including her daily awareness of trying to live in the present moment and respond openly out of a loving compassionate heart.To respond without judgment in a world of judges, to stand on the tip of consciousness and willingly emerge into something new, alone, and with one another, is the interior movement calling forth exterior change in the “church” today. Moving beyond alienation we can make a difference.
A slide show of a group of women creating a sculpture piece of a one breasted women for an
art-as-healing project for oncology patients and their loved ones, told the story of how one woman was all women and the role Radical Acceptance played in dealing with cancer or with any illness.Pat had spoken about this often in illustrating the role of Radical Acceptance in her own life challenged by Lupus and Primary Immune Disease.Radical Acceptance is not a one time of “wow, ok” but an ongoing process that emerges continually in our daily living challenging us to walk in mercy and compassion for our self and for all others.To walk with loving footsteps is the very walk Jesus asks of us and what the “church” invites us to do.If only!!!
The rest of the session was small group discussions on what had happened on an individual level to freeze the movement of the “river within” and how learning and studying about Radical Acceptance could make a difference in one’s life.An opportunity to sign up for a small study group using the book by Tara BrachRadical Acceptance was offered as a way of gaining deeper insights into moving beyond the pain of woundedness that plays a role in many people’s lives.If you are interested in taking part in a discussion group which will begin in January please contact Pat Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org or 952-929-3547
Presenters: Pat Walsh and Bonnie Strand