This week I welcomed my teacher, Stephen Jenkinson, to Austin for The 2023 Nights of Grief and Mystery tour. Stephen’s work about village making, being human, grief, death, and loving life has transformed me.
With this show, and with the wrapping up of a class in the Growing Humankindness community, grief has been coming to mind.
Underneath most food compulsions, protectors, and addictions lives a pocket of sorrow, loss, fear or grief that longs for warm hands to hold it.
I think of my own life and the shame that lived underneath my eating disorders. It was not my dysregulated ways of eating that were the true suffering – but the ways I felt ashamed for not coping better, for being overwhelmed by life’s pain.
This is the healing work of trauma: to unearth the shame that mars our days.
There’s always a deeper story that lives underneath the surface story of our struggles – the story that tells us that we’re too much or not enough, that we’ve failed or are disgusting, that we’ll never be whole or loved.
We need sacred spaces where our sorrow can be held and heard – when these stories of shame and separation can be witnessed in loving eyes and arms. Then our deeper story can rise and hold us.
One of the most helpful books I’ve read about grief is Francis Weller’s The Wild Edge of Sorrow. He says “every one of us must undertake an apprenticeship with sorrow. We must learn the art and craft of grief, discover the profound ways it ripens and deepens us.”
To honor our grief, to grant it space and time in our frantic world, is to fulfill a covenant with soul – to welcome all that is, thereby granting room for our most authentic life.”
That is the soul work we do at Growing Humankindness: ripening and deepening ourselves so we can connect, again, with our joy and rest in our wholeness.
It’s work we’re not meant to do alone. As we hear others’ stories, our own shame softens. We come to know who we are underneath our wounds, and we find them and ourselves, all of it, beautiful.
To your deepening, friend.
The Nights of Grief and Mystery
It’s touring across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia over the coming months.