Radical Mercy

May 4, 2020 | Blog, Featured Read

This last week has been downright grueling in moments, here in my privileged life, in my beautiful, safe home, with more than enough food in the fridge, in gorgeous springtime, quarantined with these beloved children I brought into the world.

I know there are so many people who are truly suffering in any number of horrifying ways as a result of this pandemic right now, and those of us who find ourselves relatively healthy and safe and fed and sane have so much to be grateful for.

And even so, there have been days I’ve deeply struggled to find comfort inside my own skin, my own thoughts, and my role as a mother.

In the last few days I’ve realized I’ve been deeply in need of some RADICAL MERCY, from my own self. I’ve realized that on top of all the challenges presented by this global pandemic, I’ve also been feeling down on myself in moments just for feeling challenged.

There can be such a pressure, perhaps especially in our spiritual sub-culture—to vigilantly abide by an uplifting perspective, to make the very most of this time, to cherish our open-ended space with our children, to rise into exceptional creativity and productivity and leadership.

In essence: I’m aware of a pressure (mostly internally sourced) to THRIVE and dream big in the midst of so much uncertainty and global fragility and multi-layered unknowns. To be a courageous leader of embodied clarity and wholehearted vision for these times.

And what’s tricky, is I do believe this is essentially what’s called for. Like so many of us, I feel a profound potential in this time for greater collective awakening and rebalancing. What a fierce wake-up call and sacred opportunity to ruthlessly examine what needs to die—within each of individually, as well as collectively and globally—so that a much-needed new way and new world can be born.

The world transforms human by human, heart by heart. It won’t happen collectively unless it happens individually.

And yes, ultimately I trust what’s unfolding, even if it includes unfathomable loss, massive cultural dissolution and deconstruction of everything we’ve known.

And yes, I think it’s best when we can resist the understandable temptation to numb out (like I did when I binge-watched a truly pathetic Netflix Drama last week– No, not the tiger one!) or the equally unhelpful tendencies of obsessive catastrophic imagining, or downright futility.

But perhaps the darker waves of depression or resistance that can arise for us in response to what’s occurring are as natural and necessary as the brighter waves of insight and breakthrough. Birth and death and rebirth in all forms usually include necessary contractions and expansions. Perhaps our honest challenge and tantrum is an inseparable aspect of our ultimate surrender and transformation.

Because even for the most privileged amongst us, this is hard. These times can be immensely triggering for all sorts of unresolved trauma and self-destructive tendencies. It’s a tremendous challenge to face uncertainty at all the levels we are being asked to face it.

The opportunities for practice and embodiment of what we know are continuous. The opportunities for vigilance are as many as there are moments in a day. AND we are human, with humbling attachments and addictions and habituated ways of relating to life, and to our world.

Ahhh mercy. Even just to write the word “mercy” and then to re-read it, is like a deep breath for me. Is it like this for you? When I open to receive this gift from myself, I feel forgiven. I feel at once humbled by my shortcomings, and spaciously embraced just as I am. I feel a simple kindness opening inside me, authentically inspiring me to hold us all with more mercy.

Yes—ALL of us, with all our various perspectives and opinions and conditioning and fears and dangerous blind spots. I can’t find a single perspective that isn’t worthy of empathy. (Which is not to say that many perspectives don’t offend, trigger or challenge me immensely!)

I spoke with a beloved friend the other night, after a particularly nerve-wracking day of quarantined parenting of my teen and pre-teen, and at the beginning of our call my friend said sweetly, “Oh, please give my love to Arayla and Ezra!” And I responded soberly, “Thank you. They’re up for adoption, if you or anyone you know might be interested.” This made us both laugh really hard, which was a precious relief. Thank God for humor. Humor is mercy.

There have been plenty of moments I’ve been blinded by trigger, or hormones, or lack of adequate personal space; moments of reeling in false identification, and succumbing to emotional reactivity. There have been days when I’ve essentially forgotten about stillness, and the power of prayer, and the simple grace of asking for help.

I was texting with another beloved friend the other day, right while I was in the thick of it, and she asked gently and lovingly if I might want to consider engaging in a transformative ritual of prayer? Meekly, I texted back, “I think all I can muster up right now is ‘HELP!’” And she reminded me, “‘Help’ is just fine. Surrender into the simplicity of that!”

When we can find our way to the voice that remembers how to ask for help, we are more than halfway home. When we can simply ask for help from the Mystery, from the Holy Ones, from our own dear heart, and clarify what it is we actually want and need support with, this is a noble and potent act of courage.

“Help” is the opening. It’s the crack that then avails us to the Help that is always, already here.

Sometimes when I find my way back to “Help,” much-needed tears can finally come. It’s the gateway to radical mercy, to self-compassion, to the humility that allows us to receive whatever it is we most need.

So, my friends, when it gets rough over there, try out the simple word, “Help!” And then open wider, to see if help is here.

And let’s remember to be gentle with ourselves in the moments when we feel distant from anything resembling “thriving.” Especially all of us visionary light-workers and truth-tellers and love-revealers, let’s give ourselves a fucking break when we don’t feel especially still or awake or loving or inspiring. Let’s use those moments to hold our own selves extra close in bottomless compassion.

And to those of us who are parenting in this quarantine, stuck at home unendingly with our offspring, homeschooling while trying to work and not have our children zombified by excessive screen-use, I’m extending generous bouquets of tender empathy.

Radical mercy is where it’s at my loves. For me and for you and for our beautiful kids, and for all the rest. All the rest. We really can’t go wrong with mercy.

I love you  ~*~ J

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