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Healing Our Wounds – In Service to Humanity

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other—not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.
-Nelson Mandela


I recently read a Facebook post sharing an article on 22 things happy people do differently. What I found interesting was not the 22 happiness items but the comment section beneath the article. A man posted that he found the happiness blog to be superficial bullshit. Other readers then jumped in to reply that the man was obviously angry and not a good representative for commenting on ‘happiness.’ In response, the man then posted that he had just lost his wife after 29 years of marriage (she died at age 52 of Lymphoma). He was grieving and the 22 listed items would not bring back the happiness he had shared with her. Someone then posted, with compassion, wishing him well on his journey toward healing. To me, that exchange among the readers was far more valuable than the article itself. There was anger, honest communication, compassion, and then understanding. I found it hopeful.

There is no magic wand for healing grief—no 7, 10, or 22 steps that will bring everyone what they want in life. I think we all try to help each other, as best we can, based on what we have found to be beneficial in our journey. But in the “dark night of the soul,” each of us has to travel that narrow passage through the shadowy cave that eventually leads us to the light. Not an easy task.

During this season of high school graduation celebrations, there are those who are grieving the loss of their children. There are those who are grieving the loss of their faith communities, the loss of parents, the loss of friends, the loss of relationships, the loss of health, the loss of beloved pets, the loss of jobs, and so on. How do we heal? Where do we even begin?

When I had a miscarriage, what helped me was lying flat on my back under the trees and releasing my pain to the roots below. Nature was my solace. When my father died in a drunk driving accident, I wrote in my journal, I prayed, I sought support from friends, and I attended a recovery group. When I went through a divorce, it was yoga, Tai’ chi, and meditation that brought in rays of light. Seeking ways to learn from and use my suffering (through my writing) has always been my salvation.

The final crucial stage in my healing process has been service. I continually find myself turning my life over to Spirit and asking how I might be of service. At my daughter’s high school graduation ceremony, a young man was telling the two older women by his side that he was thinking about just getting a job, rather than going to college. Three little kids scampered about this family, one excitedly trying on the graduation cap. One of the women was sitting because she couldn’t stand for long periods. The other woman said,  “Baby, don’t worry about that. We’ll take care of you. If you get a job, you’ll never go back to school. You won’t have time.” The young man with the sweet face nodded. He looked worried. I felt my heart pumping, silently saying to myself that if I ever became wealthy, I would hand this young man all the money he needed for college. I would tell him that he didn’t have to get straight A’s, and he didn’t have to get awards or win competitions; he just had to make it through. That’s enough.

There are so many people struggling to make it through high school, struggling with addictions, struggling with harmful family situations. There are people struggling with the ills of poverty, outlandishly expensive (but necessary) medical procedures, destruction of beautiful, natural environments, and all the challenges and loss that life brings to each of us. There are also millions of people joining together to find new solutions to age-old problems. In Buddhism we are taught, “Do not turn away from suffering. Learn to see others through the eyes of compassion. Create a better future for our children.”

As we move toward healing our wounds, the light awaits—asking us how we might be of service. Asking us, what small thing might we do to make the world a better place?

In joy & gratitude, 

Diana J. Ensign

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Faith, Hope, Action

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