For the past few months, I and a small group of my beloved soul sisters, have been teaching a short course on SOUL RESTORATION at an emergency women’s shelter here in our community. I have so many emotions swirling around this effort, and it’s hard to put into words. We have learned so much. And it’s safe to say that all of our preconceived notions of what we would be doing or not doing, in this work, were pretty much false. It is so much deeper and more profound than any of us imagined it would be.
I made one attempt to tell our story, here on a blogpost I did for Brave Girls Club: Love Outside of Your Comfort Zone and I invite you to go check that out for lots more details.Bottom line is that “there but for the grace of God go I”. We are all walking this path of life at the same time, and we are all at different stages of our own journeys. All of us are 1 or 2 tragedies away from this circumstance, as much as we may like to tell ourselves that this would never happen to us. And that’s all it is, a circumstance. This is not the definition of the guests who live at the shelter, any more than any of our labels define us. As souls.
It is this concept of being a soul, not a body or an age or a career or a family member or a parent or anything else, that grabs the attention of the women. A soul who inhabits a body. A body that is continually changing throughout our lives. Who sometimes has material wealth and sometimes starves, is young and is old, is sometimes comfortable and sometimes in pain, who suffers and who creates. Who has love, has loneliness, happiness, fear, joy, anger, despair, the whole gamut of human emotions, our souls experience throughout our lifetime. And if we look at ourselves, our life histories, as a constantly evolving continuum, we can see that at any point in time, our circumstance is a temporary thing. Things will change. They always do. Helping these students wrap their heads around these truths and witnessing the moment when they understand them is breathtaking. Because for them, this all points to hope. I mean real hope. Not the kind of hope of being rescued by someone else, or by being “lucky”, or looking to something outside ourselves to solve our problems. The deep soul-grabbing kind of hope that we have when we realize that we are not stuck, we have self-determination, we have power, we can change our circumstances. Things can get better, maybe in a different way than we imagined, if we give ourselves permission to listen to our souls.
Meditative personal practices such as journaling and making truth cards, when elevated to a level of importance, not diminished as much of society would have it, have deep effects on these students. A way to organize their thoughts, to be honest with themselves in a way they perhaps never have been before. Many write and write and write and tell us they have never written this much in their lives! They never saw the value. These are simple practices to teach. Any of us who do these things can easily teach others. And I think we very much should. Another big important idea that we teach is the truth that we are all becoming. It ain’t over til it’s over! Everything is just a stage in our lives. I have been creating a big collage sign over these months which is itself becoming…..something, I don’t know where its going to go, I just keep working on it. It is meant to symbolize our lives’ process. Every time I show up with it, people say how much they love it, just as it is. And that is the point: that at every stage of our lives we are beautiful and beloved and perfectly imperfect and becoming. So just because our circumstances may be temporarily broken, that doesn’t define our souls, they are still beautiful and beloved and perfectly imperfect and becoming.
The biggest lesson for me personally on this journey has been really understanding how much we all need community. It’s not an extra bonus, or a want. It’s a need. We all learn from each other. Every person on earth has something to teach us. Too often, in our mistaken belief that to be strong means to be detached, independent, solo, and not vulnerable, we miss exactly that which our souls are meant to learn from others. And we need the support of others in our community, just as much as they need our support. We aren’t whole if we are isolated. That’s not how we’re designed to be. Especially when our circumstances are at their low points, that is when we need community the most. I learn so much from these students.
This truth card was made for me by one of the guests, after she heard my talk about my journey in life. She saw that I am just like her. My life circumstances might be very different than hers at the moment, but as souls we share 99.99999% more similarities than we do differences. I still can’t look at this card without welling up. It means the world to me. Little did I expect or even think about receiving this kind of a soul gift through doing this work.We are continuing to teach at homeless shelters and other venues this fall. We have big plans and we feel led to expand our circle. Like a snowball, the more people witness this stuff, the more people get involved. If you’re interested in doing something like this, please know that if you use any curriculum or materials created by the Brave Girls Club, you must get their written permission. And if you are moved to do something like this in your community, please feel free contact me with any questions. Or if you already do similar work, I’d love to hear about it! This is all a work in progress and I want to learn how to do better!!!!