authenticity, commitment, death of a child, existential, forgiveness, Grief, hope, peace, relationships, Writing
Howard Thurman, theologian and Harvard professor, said, “There are two questions that we have to ask ourselves. The first is, ‘Where am I going?’ and the second is, ‘Who will go with me?’ If you ever get these questions in the wrong order, you are in trouble. Fulfilling our sacred contract is an individual, existential mandate. We may find others to support us, others whose mission is the same, but first and foremost, we are here to fulfill our own calling.”
I have reached a level of great comfort in my life’s journey. Not to say that there are no other levels of even better comfort ahead. But for now, I feel quite satisfied with my life. I feel I am living as authentically as I ever have in my life. And I’m grateful for being in a place – in relationships, in surroundings – that support this authenticity.
Most of my life I was living as someone else: my mother’s daughter, my sisters’ sister, a troubled teenager, someone’s wife, the mother of all my children. They have all been a part of my journey. But about two decades ago I was confronted with the idea of what Thurman calls, “a sacred contract.” I finally realized that life could not be lived in notions of “some day.” I could not continue to make easy choices or to settle for decisions that would not disrupt the harmony for other people at the expense of my own soul’s peace.
My sacred contract has been to love myself, to forgive myself, to appreciate my uniqueness and my gifts. This has not been a commitment to a life of wild abandonment or to doing only what “feels good.” Rather, it has been a commitment to honesty and truthfulness even when that causes some discomfort for me.
Writing has given me the voice to safely express many truths – to put them in a place I could live with, and ponder, and accept, and embrace.
I would say that the past twenty years have been much less scary than at any time in my life. Even though scary things, unpleasant things, traumatic things, have happened, I have been different in the way I have grown to respond.
Where am I going? I don’t know exactly where. But I do know wherever I go, I am strong and fearless. I take with me all the people I have ever known throughout my life. Every single person (in both negative and positive circumstances) has contributed to who I am today. For that reason, I can only feel love and gratitude for them.
The relationships I have chosen to maintain – friends and family – are those which support and encourage my authenticity. As I meet people, for example at the Family House, I can truly feel empathy, respect, and love. The work I have chosen to continue is a venue where I may contribute the knowledge I have gained from all my prior life experiences. It is comfortable. It feels right.
Do I live an entirely stress-free life? NO! But my perspective on any challenges is so very different now. Those are opportunities for me to continue learning and to feel the sweet energy of a full life!
Beverly Brown Burton said:
I just reread it and it speaks of your wonderfully authentic spirit! Goodness, I am so blessed to know you…so much beauty from all these ashes.
Carol Henderson said:
Thanks for posting this Dottye. It sounds even better, the second time. And thanks again for hosting our retreat last weekend. Wish everybody could have been there; at least now they can read one of your writings.