Turning away and leaning in

Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. You can not turn away. Your destiny is bound to the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.Andrew Boyd

The alternative to feeling–anything– is feeling nothing. When we numb the darkness and pain, we numb the capacity for joy, too. I wonder if this is why I often find kindness so scary; why I can only handle small amounts of true connection and compassion among people at a time; why I sometimes feel sad in the middle of community. I don’t know how to connect and I wonder if it is because I spent so many years trying to protect myself from pain, I’ve also built up walls that make it hard for love and joy to get in.

I love the world so much. I have sat at several tables with different horrors. We all have.

What scares me is that it is so painfully hard at times to find the strength to do so.

What scares me is how easy it is to refuse to connect, to isolate, to shut down my own compassion.

What scares me is how easy it is to turn away.

I’m familiar with the phrase “lean in to the discomfort” of emotions. I think often we talk about sadness and anger here.

I also am reminding myself daily to “lean in to the joy.”

It’s so easy to turn away– from everything.

So what can we do?

Ring the bells that still can ring / forget your perfect offering / there is a crack in everything / that’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.

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