In the moment, she asks me to feel into the place where the longing lives, where the desire to reach out to others arises. I find myself moving my right hand to reach toward someone who is not there, reaching for something that is elusive, something just out of reach. Drawing my attention to the feeling, she asks me to stay with the longing, to sink into it, let it fill me up, let it flicker to life within me in a deep way. I notice the ache in my heart for comfort and love, the ache in my heart to be held close, and the voice in my head tells me it is not possible. Skillfully she notices that change, asking me about this voice, she offers to say those words out loud, so I can study them more closely. Hearing those words shifts the longing to a deeper place, and unconsciously my hands begin to cradle my face.
Soft touch against my face, letting myself sink deeply into this remembered feeling, this feeling of soft hands touching and caressing. I feel very small, very young, and there is so much love in those hands. I know these hands, I know this voice, I have heard it before. I have heard this voice call to me over the last while, telling me I was loved. I am there, being held, being seen by the mother who carried me, I can feel her so deeply in this moment, I can feel the love that flows from her heart to mine, the depths of her love. I am safe, in these hands I am safe and loved. It is a feeling that wells up from the depths of my core, and it is a feeling that is familiar to me in this moment.
I have seen this feeling before, seen it show up in my work, in my practice, with patients. I recognize this feeling that arises in smaller subtle was in my daily life. It has been there all along, it has been present but un-named. I have called this feeling compassion, and it has been my nourishment for most of my life. It has been the feeling that has sustained my work, has sustained me through hard moments, has shown me when it is time to step back, take a break, and regroup. This feeling has never felt so full as it does in this moment, and I recognize the longing that has been borne over a lifetime by this feeling. I recognize the many ways that little moments seemed to keep it alive, seemed to keep it glowing like an ember from a long-forgotten fire, waiting for conditions to change. I have been working on these conditions for many years, and most especially these last four, working to create the space and the breath needed for this ember to glow brightly again. I see it as I walk in to speak to a man who is dying, I can feel love within me for this person wake up. Talking with him about the value of this life he has lived, the people he has touched, the joys he has had, this love glows brightly in my chest. It is this love that finds the words to speak, it is this love that reaches to those who hurt, it is this love that allows me to practice in the highest ways within this field of labour.
To know a thing intimately, is to find compassion. I have known the feeling of lost love, the feeling of that primal love that was broken by life at the earliest moments. I have felt that primal wound that sat gaping in my chest for all those years, hidden for the most part from my direct understanding, yet driving my behaviour in ways that still bring sorrow to my eyes. I can feel those versions of who I was growing up, feeling that something was missing in my life, but not being able to name it. Growing up feeling like I had to prove my value in this life, again and again. That sense of fragility within me that always questioned, the sense of anticipated loss, expected separation that seemed to always hang in the air. Feeling that grief that has been carried, unknown, unseen, knowing the deep sorrow that it contains, and how this knowing colours my point of view of others. I can see the pain they carry in ways I would not it my life had been different. I can feel the suffering they endure that would be unknowable if my life had been different. I can love the part of these people that they may not yet see, I can hold it in my heart, and in my hands as I work with them to find their way through troubles, through suffering, through life. Knowing that if I help keep their ember of love alive, they will find their way to it, as so many have done, as I have done. It is what I am here to do, it is the calling of my soul.
I would not change this life even in one small way, I can see over time how it has been perfectly aligned to deliver to me the things I needed. It has been the most perfect soil I could be planted in to grown as I have. I see this life in the way that I saw my old bonsai, there was beauty within the form, there was beauty within the wood, all it needed was the time, and the encouragement of the environment, to allow that beauty to become visible to all. I sit today, with my hands cradling my face, feeling the love that has been with me from the beginning, feeling the love that has sustained me through this life, has given my life purpose and focus, has provided the energy to be curious, and I am grateful. I am grateful for the chance to know in a deep way the suffering of lost love, the suffering of unworthiness, the suffering of doubt, and to step through these places to find my heart once again.
If any of resonates for you, and you happen to be curious, and wish to know more, do not hesitate to drop me a line. If you would like to know more about my work, or to work with me, feel free to contact me. I post regularly to Instagram (@gilgrimes), Twitter (gilgrimes) , Medium and Facebook (gilgrimes) about whatever arises. And if you would like to stay in touch sign up for my newsletter (probably once or twice a month at most).