Ending Your Personal Drought
Never miss an opportunity to cry .
- Sondra Ray
Do you have a personal drought going on? Is your life so busy, is your heart so protected, your mind so in control that you rarely give yourself the time to stop and water the flowers? Nature has built into us a very precious river, an emotional body of water that for many of us has been dried up since childhood. When was the last time you had a good cry?
In the magical not just-for-children's story, The Knight In The Rusty Armor, Robert Fisher tells of a knight so good at putting on armor and galloping off to rescue princesses that he eventually finds himself stuck in his armor. He goes to see Gladbag, the court jester. Gladbag directs the knight to Merlin, a wise teacher who teaches him to see and grieve the many years he was hiding his heart in armor and rescuing princesses -many of whom didn't even want rescuing!
Contemplating all the love and vulnerability he missed out on while living that way, he breaks down and weeps. After sleeping in a puddle of his own tears, he awakes the next morning and finds that his visor has rusted away. The meltdown has begun! The knight gradually learns that tears from real feelings will soften the layers of steel he has placed around his tender heart.
About five years ago I had an earthquake of a realization, which led to a flood of healing. Very clearly and with no defense mechanisms to blind me, I was able to see just how judgment was running my life. My mind was filled with judgments, almost every moment of my waking day. Judging myself and others was how I kept myself safe in the world. An interesting thing happened when I allowed myself this new awareness: I began to cry on a daily basis. I cried for all the pain I was in, that I had been too guarded from to even notice. I cried for the isolation I experienced in the world, for the separation I felt from other people, from life, and especially from my own heart. I cried for all the years I had been too afraid to cry.
A counselor supported me during this process. As I shook and sobbed and gushed through each session, he was very excited for me. Sometimes his enthusiasm for my tears astonished me. He would say things like, "Great job, Scott! Each tear you are crying is a judgment from your past being released, an old pattern of rigidity dissolving out of your life. You are waking up! You are coming home to your heart! Congratulations!" I was so grateful for his strength of perception, his consistent trust that I was safe and on my path, for if I would have gone through it on my own I might have believed I was going crazy. I was crying every day, every night, and I had no control over when or where. After a lifetime of living in my head, I had a lot of crying to do.
I look back on those times with gratitude, for that process was the beginning of retrieving and restoring my soul. It used to be that I was rarely moved by the beauty of nature. Then one day a few years ago while watching a sunset on the beach, I found myself crying tears of joy, overwhelmed by the loveliness of God's daily masterpiece. I realized that it was my willingness to surrender to sadness that had given birth to this new found ability to be so touched by life's joys. Water was flowing again in my life. The drought was over!
But the mental dam that blocks the river of emotion did not disappear completely. I still wrestle with the programming of my past that says things like "You shouldn't feel that way, you must be strong. Don't get upset or people won't like you. If you show your true feelings you'll be abandoned. Don't cry, there's nothing to be afraid, angry or sad about.² All these messages given to me as a child, and often given with the best of intentions, boil down to one simple, life-numbing suggestion: Don't feel. And from that suggestion is born the great and powerful mind, forcing its way through life, pushing and shoving, using judgment as a means of protection from possible hurt and pain. The costs of this protection plan are a closed heart and a lack of passion. I get to feel safe, in control, yet somewhat removed from my life, a spectator in an ivory tower rather than a player on the field.
Each day the choice is before me: do I feel or do I judge my way through this moment? Sometimes I still choose to judge. But these days, the angst of my own self-alienation catches up with me quickly, thank God. I am grateful for how sensitive I've become to hearing the child in my heart cry, and for letting the tears come up and out, for I have found that to be the fastest and most foolproof way to make the journey from my head to my heart, from the complexity of the adult to the simplicity and nakedness of the child - the child who, by virtue of his defenselessness, can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Did you ever wonder how much of the planetary water shortage was due to the earth reflecting humanity's collective emotional drought, our unwillingness to feel, to grieve, to let our hearts be renewed through the healing rainfall of tears? Perhaps one of the greatest things we can do to help restore the planet to balance is to restore ourselves to balance. For most of us, that means re-discovering our ability to feel. So many of us are walking around out of touch with our emotions. I believe that uncried tears harden to walls of separation, and walls are what enable people to violate and abuse each other, and the planet, without understanding that what they are doing, they are doing to themselves. In The Knight In The Rusty Armor, early on in the story, the knight shakes the court jester's hand to thank him for his advice, and he almost crushes it. Gladbag yelps, and then says to the knight, "When your armor isn't there, of other's pain you'll be aware.²
This has been happening more and more in my life. As I've rusted away some of my armor, I am connecting with greater compassion to people, animals, and even bugs. Last year, after a lifetime as a mass murderer, I stopped killing insects. It wasn't a moral decision, and it didn't involve guilt at all. I was about to smash a spider when it occurred to me that I was stomping on a part of myself, that I was one with this creature, and if I wanted to love myself unconditionally I might want to extend gentleness to this part of my Self. Since then I have taken the time to escort unwanted house guests out the front door. It feels good to treat life gently, from the softness of my heart's expression.
Would the Nazi's have carried out the Holocaust if the German people, as children, hadn't had their feelings stomped on and invalidated, over and over again? How else could they learn to follow orders blindly and live in emotional disconnect? Closer to home, we built our country on the blood of the Native American people, practically wiping them out in the name of Manifest Destiny, a head trip if there ever was one.
If enough of us find our tears, these tragedies will not repeated, for rising from the depths of our grief comes our heart connection to life, and we will not destroy what we feel connected to. Restored to our ability to cry, we then can hear the cries of the Tibetan people being massacred, the cries of rainforests being destroyed, and we will have no choice but to respond, for we will recognize these cries as our own.
One of my songs contains these lyrics:
|May I laugh all my laughter,
may I cry all my tears,
may I love the rain as deeply
as the sun when it clears
These words have become a mantra for me, a steady reminder to go with the river's flow of my feelings. Sometimes they take me through turbulent white water, other times through calm, still waters, but always they lead me home to the ocean, vibrantly alive, passionately and compassionately alive.
Scott Kalechstein sings and speaks for his supper. He shares his own healing and awakening process through music and the spoken word. With levity and love, he travels the U.S.A., Canada and Europe, giving workshops, talks and concerts at churches, conferences, living rooms, and wherever people are open to a heart-centered approach to learning. Scott is also a prolific recording artist and a licensed minister. For a catalog of his music or booking information he can be reached at (760) 753-2359 or e-mailed at email@example.com
Return to the July/August Issue Index page