I've always thought that children are our greatest teachers and have often joked that I must have needed many teachers in this life because I've been tremendously gifted with many children. And, I've learned, and continue learning, from each and all of them the dichotomous gifts of struggle and pain - ease and joy.
My children push me to my edges, make me look over the peaks and valleys of my life - not without fear or longing but laced with great courage. They show me how to show-up. They get in my face and demand action. They show me my shadows. And, most of all, they teach me the depths of forgiveness and mercy - of love without bounds.
They show me the lighted path of Love through the Darkness.
In Anam Cara, John O'Donohue writes:
"You should bring a compassionate mindfulness to your mistakes and wounds. Endeavor to inhabit again the rhythm you were in at that time. If you visit this configuration of your soul with forgiveness in your heart, it will fall into place itself. When you forgive yourself, the inner wounds begin to heal. You come in out of your exile of hurt into the joy of inner belonging. This art of integration is very precious." (p. 183)
Not long ago, my oldest child showed me the way to do this with amazing compassion. She made a point of telling me that she forgave me for some of the choices I'd made that, at the point in her life they were made, hurt her deeply. She also celebrated with me the treasures of our relationship and what she'd learned from me that she carries forward with choice. This was cathartic for me and for her. To forgive and be forgiven in such a loving and compassionate response is one of life's truly beautiful and precious gifts. Can I do the same for others?
We struggle in our relationships - all of us. We humans are proud and demanding. I've found a generous dose of humility is a strong medicine for moving through the barriers we put up in our relationships - particularly in the relationships we cultivate with ourselves. I'm still learning to lean into this and remember to seek, within, the necessary response in the most trying of times - to "visit this configuration of (my) soul with forgiveness in (my) heart". I'm continually learning the power of reflection and self-compassion. And, I'll admit that it's often a tough practice - often done rather poorly - this movement toward integration and belonging.
And so, this is my offering:
As we continue aging, may we find again the wisdom of our inner child and the wonder of the world around us.
May we continually visit our true light - our Soul - and rest in its love and compassion.
May we arise each morning with an open and curious heart and enter each day with the Joy of inner belonging.
May we find again the playful innocence of youth.
May we love until our heart gushes and overflows.
May we sleep a peaceful slumber.
May our inner child light our way Home.