As this powerful year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the vital role humbling has played historically, in the unfolding of my life, and in the evolving heart of our world.
Yes, it has been a year of Great Humbling.
And yet, humbling at its finest always serves as an invitation to come into right relationship, don’t you think?
As the arrogance of the mind is humbled, the mind bows down and curls up at the altar of the heart. Mental humbling invites the mind to stop, invoking right relationship with the very nature of thought.
When we are humbled by our mistakes and shortcomings, by the ways we can be total assholes, this invites us to learn the art of apology, the skills of repair, the grace of forgiveness.
When we are humbled by our own self-betrayal, this invites us to realize a deeper level of integrity; the capacity to discern true from untrue, and how to make a self-respecting choice.
Humbling can feel extremely uncomfortable, difficult, even tragic at times. Death of a loved one, loss of a marriage, the burning down of a home or a town or a state, loss of health, loss of work and income and financial security, the surrendering of any intimate attachment—all so powerfully humbling.
And yet, when we are humbled by the ruthlessness of loss, this invites us to realize—deep in the soul of our bones—what can’t be lost; what can only be ever-more-fully found.
Spiritual humbling, that which comes in the darkest nights of the soul, annihilates our faith so we might discover something even truer: a deeper surrender, a fuller leaning in, a chance to be swallowed by the truth of oneself.
When meningitis came knocking at the door of my 18-month old self, my entire experience of aliveness was dismantled. My essential trust in life as a safe and benevolent place was vitally injured. The neurological trauma in my nervous system unfolded simultaneously to the way this traumatized my family. My sense of home within my body, my family and our world became at once fractured and hobbled, and in this I was profoundly humbled.
And yet this humbling invited me, over time, to discover right relationship with my own aliveness, with incarnation, with pain, with disability, with embodiment, with empathy, compassion and self-love.
Devastation became the gateway to true homecoming.
Isn’t it useful to imagine that’s precisely what we’re up to right now, as a species?
Fumbling our humbled way towards right relationship with one another, with our planet, with our humanity, with our resources, with global health and collective wealth, with a possibility of universal honesty, empathy, intelligence and integrity?
If we’re going to tell a story about these tumultuous times, my loves, let’s tell a healing story. Not a bypassing story, or an avoidant denial story, or a new-age fantasy story, or a blaming, divisive, finger-pointing story, or a sensationalizing, drama-fueling story, or a hopeless despair story.
But rather, let’s tell a medicine story. Let’s tell a story infused with our prayers and vulnerable desires for what we know this life, at its heart, already is—and for what it truly wants to be.
Medicine stories are shaped by the lens through which we see our lives, by our willingness to alchemize our wounds and challenges into the very medicine we are needing our lives to be.
What comes first—the story of medicine, or the realization of medicine? Perhaps they take turns, weaving in and out, in some kind of powerfully braided tapestry of healing.
I’ll tell you, for me this past year has been a humbling descent into feeling fully lost to the world, without any knowable identity as a healer, or shaman, or teacher or writer. Muted, without much of anything to say, or to write, or to teach, or to give. A humbling of my voice.
In the wake of my failure to publish a book I had poured my heart and soul into, I needed to burn through layers of multi-generational disappointment and grief, worthlessness and shame; layers of misidentification with the lie; layers of somebody still striving to be somebody in this world, still seeking some kind of external validation of my value.
I have felt the trustworthiness of this descent, this complete emptying out, while also squirming at times in the aching absence of my muse, and an anxious loss of my direction, in knowing that I am at my best when my heart and intellect and channel are being put to good use.
And yet it seems in these times so many of us have had to burn in the discomfort of deconstruction, uncertainty and unknowing; in the destabilizing loss of a certain life trajectory.
It seems to be a mysterious part of the collective portal and passage many of us have needed to navigate.
Sometimes the personal humbling and the collective humbling are one and the same. Together, we have been brought to our knees.
Here, in our startling interdependence and interwovenness, we are creating a medicine story for these times.
Last spring when we first went into lockdown in North America, I wrote: Sometimes life kicks us to the ground, so that we learn how to pray. So that we learn the art of asking for help. So that we can’t escape the reality of how fleeting these precious lives are. So that we stop scrambling in avoidance of death and loss and living, and learn to cherish it all.
Because through all this burning in collective uncertainty, all this emptying out of mis-identities, it’s the deepening of our prayer, the vigilance of my own self-love, the cherishing of being alive together, and the shining truth of stillness that have been my saving grace.
How available clarity is here, in any given moment, in this pause, in this treasure trove of stillness, this which is untouched by all past and all future.
How golden, this simple space. How sane. Nothing to be done, and no one to be. How sublimely sobering.
This holy still-point seems to be a wise place from which to complete, and then to begin again, the next cycle around the sun.
Blessing you and everyone you love with happiness and health and wellness in all ways. May all beings be free. May all beings come home to the truth of love. Happy new year.
I love you! ~*~ Jesua
Inspired Art by the extraordinary Autumn Skye