Blessings are not hard to come by, especially in times of turmoil, but it often takes me a while to discover them. And sometimes when I do, I feel conflicted. As though I ought to be angry or frustrated or hurt like some of the people around me. In solidarity. But instead I can't stop smiling because I feel like I've unlocked some hidden door that lets out light and warmth shining toward me.
A member of my family has been hurt by another. Someone she trusted and relied upon has been taking advantage of her for a good long time and, when confronted, had the audacity to admit it without showing any remorse. The waves are widening out and touching many people and for a while, the betrayal seemed to grow by the minute as additional evidence was uncovered. Those of us closest to her are pitching in to understand the depth of the mess and begin to clean it up and, from the beginning I've pitched and rolled between two poles.
I was upset and sickened by the acts of this person. Almost immediately I heard a voice inside me calling for compassion and forgiveness and understanding. Right on the heels of that voice came another, "It won't change anything. Or fix anything. And it's disloyal." I felt as though I needed to show my anger in order to support my family. I decided to sit with all of this for a while and see what settled.
Yesterday a page from The Four Agreements came to me: don't take it personally. What a relief! The things this person did weren't about me. Or my family. Any of us. They have nothing to do with us except that we caught the fallout. Flashes of sadness for this person came throughout the day - what terrible lessons and circumstances led her to this? I hope that she is able to find some help. Some relief. Some understanding and compassion for herself some day. I still hesitate to speak these things out loud, knowing that many others in my family are still reeling from the pain and anger, the practicalities of cleaning up the mess left behind.
This morning I wondered: what if this person had been family? What if she had come to one of us and asked for our help? What if she had admitted her bad behavior, acknowledged her weakness and asked for forgiveness and assistance? If she were family, it would certainly have been granted. Not necessarily without anger or regret, but she would have been held in love, stayed within the circle of the family, and had people to stand by her while she worked through her troubles.
I don't mean to say that I think anyone ought to reach out to her and offer this. It is not my betrayal to recover from, not my mess to clean up. I am not prescribing any particular set of actions. But I am not angry or seeking "justice" or retribution, either. That simple shift, the question of 'what if she had been part of the family' gave me a vantage point from which to open my heart to pure understanding and compassion. I no longer feel any pull to go back to the other extreme of anger or betrayal. I am sad for everyone involved, but am free to hold them all in love and hope without feeling disloyal to anyone.
And so tonight, I will carry a smudge stick of sage to the house, ask permission to light it and walk through the house with only the purest of intentions and love as my guide to cleanse the space and offer hope. My family may think I'm nuts (okay, they definitely will), but I will know that, for me, this experience has been a true blessing and I am ready to accept all it has to offer.