Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Power of Community

I was thinking about healing on Yom Kippur, a holy day of reflection that comes every year in the fall, a time for evaluation of our experience and actions in the past year and redirection, hope and personal dedication for the coming year.  We do this as a community during services, in which we collectively take responsibility for the past and the future.  It is an acknowledgement that we do not really live alone, isolated from others, and that our actions affect more than just ourselves. 

When we live with illness, pain, anxiety and depression, the struggle feels personal, isolating, and sometimes overwhelming and without hope.  We each do the best we can to care for ourselves, sometimes supported by a medical team and, if we are fortunate, a partner and family.  We might feel or have been told that there is “nothing that can be done.”  Some of us may know a few techniques (“tools”) which can help us to feel better, but it is often not enough.

Even if we know some of the tools, it is in community (groups) that we can understand what has happened to us and where we can find the truth of ourselves as whole, as healed, as active, so that possibilities open for us, and our lives open up once again.

It is that, more than anything else, which we seek.  Pain, illness, anxiety, and depression have been prisons.  The bars have closed around us so slowly that we may not have even noticed.

We become defined by “I can’t,” “it won’t let me,” “I never will,” “I’ll stay here while you…,” “you go on without me…,” “I wish I could…”

What steps can lead to removal of those bars that cage us in?  How can we open to possibilities instead of sadly turning our heads away?  Who around us who can hold the space open for us, so we can then find our way to reach out for those possibilities?  How can we feel effective and powerful, so that we can be effective and take power?

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