Monday, December 13, 2010

Safe place

"There is nothing more whole than a broken heart." This statement by Menachem Mendel of Kotzker (the Hasidic master known as the Kotzker Rebbe) expresses a profound understanding of the human condition, and the range of experiences and emotions that go into framing our lives. Often, we are prompted to ignore (or "overcome") life's difficulties - yet they too are part of what make us who we are. Not that we should "like" or "appreciate" the garbage that comes our way; we do have the capacity to embrace and manage the tough stuff we face. This does not make us weaker: rather, acknowledging - and working to manage - our challenges (illness, stress, career, family, whatever they are) allows us more fully to grow toward our potential, and live with meaning. And - we all need some way to address our broken hearts. This past weekend, I was privileged to conduct such a conversation with those attending our Shabbat morning service. Some shared their personal perspectives, looking back on the most challenging episodes they've endured, having come to see that navigating roadblocks along the path of life is part of a sacred journey. The group discussed how - even though our individual circumstances differ - we all share the "same broken-ness." There was a powerful connectedness felt through the room. And afterward, one participant took me aside, saying "thank you for making this a safe place where we can talk about what's really important." One of the most simple, most touching comments I've ever heard. What's your "safe place"? How do you embrace, address and flourish beyond the challenges you face? What helps make your broken heart whole?

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