Close up and intimate

Being deeply loved… gives you strength, loving deeply gives you courage.

Lao Tzu


Those of us who work in the field of paediatric palliative medicine often have the experience that children with terminal illness, close to death, wait for permission, specifically, permission from their parents to let go into the great beyond.  Permission that assures them that all will be okay, that the parents will be okay when the children finally leave their side, that the journey will be safe and filled with love.  We also experience the distress and lingering that can happen when this permission is withheld, sometimes unconsciously, but at other times very purposefully as the present moment reality has not yet been reconciled or even recognised as a possibility.

Countering this permission giving at the end of a life, no matter how short, I observe many of us, no longer children, seeking permission to live, permission to fully experience our life in all its totality of pain and joy, no matter the consequences, permission that only we can give ourselves. Permission to fully live the detail of our life is to be exquisitely curious and intimate with the every moment experience, no matter the difficulties that present themselves.  Permission sought to pay attention to this journey of life that includes multiple varying themes and ripples of personal, work, and family.  How they overlap and inform each other.  Wondering for myself too how many of the current stories and narratives that I hear are those of mothers, the meeting of life, of family, of self, narratives that reflect back on me, my family, my friends, my colleagues, as I deeply listen to the common universal ripples within the well of stories that are being told.  How deeply paying attention and listening to these narratives exposes the intimacy in all our lives, and sometimes in a moment of grace allows the teller to touch the rawness of it all and not shrink back.

Many narratives this week, told by mothers of gravely ill and at times dying children, have been around deep loss and grief.  Grief narratives with many layers of complicated and compounded losses: – family, children, dreams, such as one told by a young mother this week, uncovering her pain and anger, allowing her to give voice to her deepest rawness.  The pain of not being adequately sheltered and protected, violated, abandoned, enduring years of blaming, shaming, and finding her own way in a paternalistic hierarchical society that often gives little protection or respect to young stigmatised mothers.  Life anguish so raw and deep the telling felt like shattered glass grinding against itself.  Witnessing too how courage in the telling and deep listening can bring an unexpected lightness and capacity to move forward, to make new decisions, to stay, for now in the ambivalence, without resorting to anger, vengeance, and unconsidered reactivity.  Reflecting on how this is a universal narrative of many young women, perhaps even our own, exposed to a life less intimate at the sometimes cruel meeting of life’s demands, perhaps exploitation, the journey of unsupported womanhood and motherhood thrust upon one too young, too early.  A life interrupted and dreams denied.

As we tread our own unfolding path, one of meeting the raw edges of what is arising at every moment, a listening deeply to the threads weaving together underneath the story.  No so much personal but always intimate.  Getting back into the abysses of our soul work so effectively closed over for many years, cracked open as the years go by, and perhaps now fully present in all its richness.  Accepting the gift to finally experience one’s life and not be numb to it, to have the opportunity to meet the joy and the pain, the turmoil and the anxiety, the ‘I don’t know’ and deep universal grief of every moment, and to find a way to move right into and perhaps through the middle of it.  To understand how this moment is a culmination of all the moments and choices that have gone before and how the future unknown opens beyond the choices of the present, how deeply rooted and immobile this moment is, even as it itself transforms into the next. This certainly is my current path and all I can do is sit, stay, be, meet the fear, and allow the opening into being deeply intimate with this life as it is.  When we fear meeting the intimacy and rawness of our lives we live our lives at a distance from ourselves.  We may feel better or a sort of numbing but life continues to demand our attention and presence in many other subtle ways.  So however the raw intimacy of grief and loss narratives may show up for you, meeting them with courage, heart, kindness, and capacity to listen deeply.  Not just listening to the stories and narratives of others but those of your own hearts, and perhaps in the listening deeply to the quest for intimacy of your heart giving yourself permission to live life fully, in all its richness and layers.


When Someone Deeply Listens To You

When someone deeply listens to you

it is like holding out a dented cup

you’ve had since childhood

and watching it filled up with

cold, fresh water.

When it balances on top of the brim, you are understood.

When it overflows and touches your skin,

you are loved.

When someone deeply listens to you

the room where you stay

starts a new life

and the place where you wrote

your first poem

begins to glow in your mind’s eye.

It is as if gold has been discovered!

When someone deeply listens to you

your bare feet are on the earth

and a beloved land that seemed distant

is now at home within you.

By John Fox

About amindfullife

Passionate about living every moment as best I can. Continually emergent and a work in progress
This entry was posted in Courage, difficult emotions & death in every moment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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