Tag Archives: JohnO’Donohue

Sparks will fly #18 #humiliation

The different between embarrassment and humiliation has been a topic of discussion this week.  Embarrassment being an inside job and humiliation being an experience of power and something that cuts a lot deeper than embarrassment. Humiliation is often covered up and put in the corner, but it can be complete with outing and public scrutiny. The never ending dance includes familiar friends of shame and guilt.  Shame is also an inside job, and you feel completely alone and guilt focusses on behaviour and can often be shared. There is no end to opportunities to experience these emotions and see them play out everyday!  On the weekend, I was at a friends birthday party and some of the in-real-life Dad jokes caused embarrassment to the children of the father in question, but there was no guilt or shame to be seen.

Exploring these themes with aplomb is Brene Brown and her work around shame is bringing a revolution to emotional growth. Empathy, resilience and self-compassion seem to be the holy trinity inoculation and anti-dote to these other emotions, and breaking them down to be clear about what is yours and what belongs to the other.

If your heart can be big enough to hold the hurt, it might also be that strengthened by generosity, be big enough to hold the healing.  Matching the healing to size of the hurt, seems to be one of those equations of life that isn’t easily addressed.  Lots of little hurts can amalgamate in all kinds of ways, being swept under the carpet, stored behind closed doors, hidden under a bed … look at all those metaphors which imply darkness, out of sight and mediated by a solid object.  I think that is what we do to ourselves as well as our hearts harden and become impenetrable when we don’t let the hurts ooze out and act like the vulnerable human beings we are when we are betrayed and lost.

Coming out into the light, being exposed to the elements, it is inevitable we will be weathered. The innocence, power, creativity and splendour of the elements best described by John O’Donohue are at our disposal constantly being revealed in the landscapes around us and as the earth and the rivers are worn down and the wind wildly blows about us, as it does in Western Ireland, or for us in Australia how the sun beats down on us, the elements are irresistible. We are caught in their flow and our attempts to manage them with air conditioners, sunblock, umbrellas or even dams, doesn’t stop them being there. There are lessons we can transfer from the elements to our human condition. We can put up barriers, use devices, create and use psychological gymnastics but those emotions are with us and we need to work with them, not against them, to find our way out into the light and good weather of good health.

We are elemental beings where the great forces of air, earth, wind of course fire find themselves a home in our emotional selves and in our bodies.  Humiliation is in the earth from which the very word derives and has us digging deep to get through it.  Perhaps it is by working with the other elements to blow it away, give it space to breathe and let the sparks fly? Maybe then that it can be relieved of its duty to call us closer to knowing our worth and understanding humiliation as a by-product of institutional injustices. When that realisation comes to the fore … sparks will fly.



Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

Blessings between Saturdays

In between the Saturdays of the wedding rehearsal and the wedding, I went down to the place, between the trees, where we walked to mark the path to enter the sacred space. I sat at the picnic table and ate a pie from the local bakery. I was joined by three magpies. Two were fairly young and the third was standing at a distance from the younger ones. One of the younger ones was full of courage, bounded up and literally stood a few centimetres from my hand on top of the table, the other sang sweetly at my feet, while the third one looked on. I couldn’t shoo them away, they refused to budge. So I asked them what they were doing there … And they asked me the same.

I had gone there, to be in the space, alone, to prepare for the next Saturday. On that day I won’t be there alone. I will be in the company of family and friends – all witnesses to the marriage of our youngest daughter. I wanted to see what was on the horizon, in the foreground, what the backdrop looked like and to ask the landscape to talk to me. The stringy bark gums shedding layers, the gentle sound of the brook rippling, the wind fondling the leaves of the old redgum were supported by a lively orchestra of parrots, honey eaters and … magpies.

My Dad was a maggie through and through (a Port Adelaide supporter) so I mused that the older bird watching on was his totem come to let me know he was witness too. The three magpies – a feathered trinity. It was emotional.

This place is a sacred meeting place for generations for the Kaurna people and I wonder what the elders would tell me about the magpies visiting the mother of the bride on a day between the Saturdays? Perhaps they were affirming my action to take the moment, and holding me there so I would enter into it? Perhaps they were heralding me onwards and reminding me that between Saturdays it is right to stop and soak it in? One thing I was confident of, I was being blessed and loved and honoured and the Universe had sung my Dad to me and is with us, with me.

When I think back to the “between the Saturdays” of my wedding, I remember being by the water tank at the back of my family home learning the lines of my vows so that I could confidently recite them and not repeat the words from the priest. I remember wanting to be able to know them “off by heart” because they were going to last me a lifetime. I did learn them and I do recite them to myself from time to time when I need of remind myself. I have found that at different times in my life one line has been more salient than another – for richer or for poorer ; in sickness and in health. I was always a bit confused that richer comes before poorer and sickness before health. I am definitely richer than ever and sickness is more at our door than ever but they now come together in a way that makes perfect sense to me now. My father walked me down the aisle of John XXIII as the sun set on a hot Saturday evening in February. Our daughter will walk between her Mum and Dad, along a path strewn with leaves as the afternoon sun reaches its height in a park at the back of a colonial courthouse where for thousands of years people have gathered as families to share stories and food and delight in the spring that never dries up. it was in this place she joined a croning ritual for my 50th birthday. It is a place I go to for making decisions, for respite and just to be. This place will bless those who gather and in turn we will bless the space between us as John O’Donohue has described ” in the parched deserts of post modernity a blessing can be like the discovery of a fresh well … When a blessing is invoked, it changes the atmosphere. .. It is ironic that so often we live like paupers though our inheritance of spirit is so vast” (xv To Bless the Space Between Us).

This same week, between the Saturdays, a young friend bought back from his travels Br David Steindl-Rast’s new book 99 Blessings. My young friend had met Br David in Edinburgh at TED Global. They connected and his book travelled half the world with an inscription and blessing to us. The lightness of the book seemed to be a feather in the breath of God itself, being blown to me on the wings of airlines and in the care of the next generation … I am so blessed and so grateful! What a delicious filling in between these Saturdays!

I am being drenched by love. I come to Saturday confident that a community of creatures, indeed the whole universe, is intent on bestowing blessings that bring union to time and space, the visible and invisible, past and future.

On Saturday, at the wedding, I am going to read John’s blessing for a marriage, and having sat on his land in Ireland earlier in the year, adding my voice to singing the Beatitudes as a storm began to roll in, truly I know the maggies are with me. Never before has “when two or three gather in My name” rung as true as it does for me this week, between the Saturdays.

I come to this Saturday knowing that it is in the in-between spaces that revelations unfold and blessings abound.

Courthouse Gardens, Willunga