The first time I ever heard about the Phoenix rising from the ashes was in reading the Harry Potter series. I was captivated by the idea that out of something that seemed horrible and final was the potential for a rebirth and renewal.
I realized that some of the experiences in my life that have seemed the darkest have given me the opportunity to rise up anew and embrace life in a deeper way. Death by fire isn’t pleasant, but it has a way of distilling everything down to its elements in a way nothing else could.
When we experience overwhelming life events (could be a car accident, death, divorce, illness, financial struggles, challenging behaviors from our kids we don’t understand…), we have a choice. We can look at it as something horrible that is happening to us, OR we can look at it as an opportunity to grow and change, to allow ourselves to transform and to deeply heal.
We don’t get to a place of acceptance and peace overnight, though. And how easily we’re able to navigate the journey depends on our own early attachment stories (or what we’ve done since we were young to heal those wounds). Are we able to reach out for comfort from others during our times of distress or do we retreat into ourselves? Or do we lash out at others and/or spin in our overwhelming feelings?
Ideally, we would all be able to reach out to others in the midst of our distress and accept support. That when we experience our feelings in the presence of another, we would feel better rather than worse. But most of us have never experienced it before and don’t know on an emotional level that it is possible. Our parents didn’t know it, either, and couldn’t give us what they had never experienced themselves.
It is possible, and it is very necessary for deep healing.
In order to rise out of our own ashes, we need to accept that we’re designed to be in relationships, and we heal in relationship much more deeply than we could ever “heal” on our own.
I just recorded the first class for our new series, When the Unexpected Happens. We dove much more deeply into the idea of attachment patterns from how feelings were handled when we were growing up and the landscape of the journey after something unexpected happens. The idea that traumatic events aren’t always negatively life-altering, depending upon the support we’re able to seek, helps to give hope that all is not lost. In fact, it can be the catalyst for deep healing for ourselves and for our families.
I ended my class today by reading something from A Grateful Heart, a lovely little book of blessings for the evening meal, edited by M. J. Ryan, that I had opened to earlier this week.
I’ll share it with you now.
Resurrection. The reversal of what was thought to be absolute. The turning of midnight into dawn, hatred into love, dying into living anew.
If we look more closely into life, we will find that resurrection is more than hope, it is our experience. The return to life from death is something we understand at our innermost depths, something we feel on the surface of our tender skin. We have come back to life, not only when we start to shake off a shroud of sorrow that has bound us, but when we begin to believe in all that is still, endlessly possible.
We give thanks for all those times we have arisen from the depths or simply taken a tiny step toward something new. May we be empowered by extraordinary second chances. And as we enter the world anew, let us turn the tides of despair into endless waves of hope.
May you find deep healing for yourself through the challenges of your life, rather than in spite of them. The gifts will rise out of the ashes of your old life, your old worldview, and you will find a new and deeper wholeness. Just know it is there for you to claim after the flames have subsided.