When Words Aren't Enough
As part of my offering, I do mentoring sessions for people, and in these meetings, I often hear about some pretty intense experiences from terminal illness to lost loved ones. However, last night I had a consultation with a mother of three small children who was going through a situation, or combination of situations I should say, that was so extreme, in order to process it all I ended up staying up until midnight pairing socks between episodes of tears.
It was the first time I’ve ever felt at a loss for words during a session. Not because I didn’t know the Vedic perspective on it all, but in that moment, it felt hollow. And sometimes, spiritual counsel can feel like gas lighting if the lived reality of the person is in stark contrast to what is being expressed. Here was someone who was at the utmost edge of human experience, far past anything I’d ever gone through. Sacrifices made that I could hardly even imagine.
What do we do when words just don’t seem like enough? The truth is, I don’t have the answer, because an answer implies we can fix it. Nothing we can do will make the nightmare go away. We do what we can. When words fail, I believe there are two things we can try that are in opposite directions: Being and action.
All beings long to be witnessed, they long to feel seen. Even the plants in our gardens thrive when we give them our undivided attention. When someone is going through the unimaginable, sitting in your most expanded awareness and allowing your innocent attention to flow to them both when you’re with them and when you’re not, is very nurturing. Not being needy in any way. Listening when they want to talk, just sitting when they don’t. Being available to help if the opportunity comes up.
This is where the other category comes in-action. I don’t know about you, but when I see someone in the media send “thoughts and prayers” to someone, I cringe a little bit. Maybe instead of “thoughts and prayers” it should be “action and money.” Not to say that prayer isn’t powerful, but sometimes what people really need is support organized for them, even in the ordinary areas of life. One of the cruelest parts of going through a major tragedy is the normal human requirements don’t stop. The kids still have to be fed, the bills still have to be paid.
Sometimes, I am truly humbled by the human story. There are epic acts of heroism and divine strength happening behind ordinary doors. This morning instead of taking my son straight back home to hand him off to the sitter and do my work, I took him to see the boats in the harbor for a little while. I realized just by remembering to be in the moment and not waste the gifts we’ve been given and time we have, this is also something we can do to honor our neighbors who are going through so much.