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Together We Rise

Life is difficult.

I remember the first time reading this sentence in a book, where the author shared the story of her reaction to reading this sentence herself. She described that moment as waves of relief flooding her as she realized that yes, life was indeed difficult. And that by not acknowledging that, she was making it even more difficult.

Somewhere along the way, even if as children we heard things like, "Life isn't fair" or "Life isn't always a bed of roses" we at the same time harbor the idea that some day, life will become easier. We grow to expect it. That somehow if we just do this or that, we will no longer face difficulty.

How often do we cry out, "Why did this have to happen to me?"

The truth, is that this recognition should bring us all relief. The universal understanding that there are many external forces working upon each of us that we cannot control is quite freeing! No, life is not singling us out unfairly or making our lives more difficult than someone else's on purpose. It is just the way life is - the myriad of complexities and multitude of threads woven together makes it impossible for us to be exempt of the greater forces of the universe.

But this does not mean we need to suffer. There will be pain in life, but the suffering comes from how we react to the pain. When we view a challenge or trauma in our life as if there was some personal vendetta against us and cling to the thought of how unfair it is, we miss the opportunity to be present with what the challenge is offering for our own growth.

Instead, we resist - we in every and any way search for a way out. We want to run away from our pain instead of sitting with it. But when we sit with the pain long enough, when we sit with it in a way that we wish to become friends with it - the pain and the experience that caused the pain, will begin to teach us. It begins to reflect its mirroring companion of joy and love. And it will show you the way through the pain.

It will show you how to grow and how to reemerge. And maybe, just maybe - you'll even be grateful for it.

But here's the thing. We don't go through it alone.

First, God gave each of us a guardian angel. Your angel is with you all the time. Your guardian angel has been with you for as long as your soul has been, loves you with great ferocity and is always working to help you, guide you, and protect you.

God also gives us each other. How many times have you been going through something difficult and randomly someone appears in your life that shares a similar story? The stranger that you suddenly meet that becomes a piece of your journey? There is no randomness to this. Each person is placed in our path for a purpose. Some are meant only to be there temporarily and some will walk with us for a long time. But they have been placed in your life to assist you in your growth.

So the random piece of advice, the hug that sinks into your bones, the smile behind the eyes letting you know that you are seen - this is all God's way of ensuring and reminding us that we are never alone. And, that we are all loved.

I know this for certain. My inner landscape was radically altered when my son died at birth earlier this year. Like a tornado that ripped through and tore everything out. There were moments that I thought that maybe I could put some pieces back together, slowly and over time, so that I might recognize even just a little bit of what I once knew. But I began to realize that I will never know that landscape again for it has changed to the unrecognizable. I have come to understand that I must learn my new landscape and it will take time to explore. It's as if someone dropped me into a whole new world without a map and I must go out to discover and chart every piece.

Some days there is eagerness to explore because I know I will learn and see new things about myself - other days are filled with dread because the foreignness of this new land at times makes me homesick for what I once knew.

But I am not alone. I have been surrounded by beautiful warrior mamas. Women who have surmountable strength and fiercely love their children. Women who smile brightly, but with a tear behind the eye. These women walk with me. They have buried their child. Their inner landscapes were also destroyed; set aflame and contain fires that still smolder in corners of the heart.

Individually and together we rise. We support each other through our pain - to help ease our suffering.

As Rumi wrote,

"This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes As an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond."

So smile at the stranger that sits next to you at breakfast and asks to borrow a napkin. Hug the person you just met for a few seconds longer. And wish one another well. Because life is difficult for everyone and we can be part of the web of compassion that seeks to uplift.

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