Burned by the Flames, Intent on Rising from the Ashes
My personal life, my home and very heart, is in turmoil and I am going through some very big changes.
My big changes involve other people and, while I am ever so comfortable blabbering to you about my personal triumphs and failures, I will not expose others to the same public examination. Some day I will be able to talk to you in clear terms about my own Phoenix Process — as author Elizabeth Lesser calls it in Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow — just not yet.
“You and I are the Phoenix. We too can reproduce ourselves from the shattered pieces of a difficult time. Our lives ask us to die and to be reborn every time we confront change—change within ourselves and change in our world. When we descend all the way down to the bottom of a loss, and dwell patiently, with an open heart, in the darkness and pain, we can bring back up with us the sweetness of life and the exhilaration of inner growth. When there is nothing left to lose, we find the true self—the self that is whole, the self that is enough, the self that no longer looks to others for definition, or completion, or anything but companionship on the journey.
“This is the way to live a meaningful and hopeful life—a life of real happiness and inner peace. This is the Phoenix Process.”
So here I am, in the Phoenix Process. It is painful. Sometimes I find it hard to breathe. My breath catches in my chest, fear rises into my throat, a hollow loneliness settles into my stomach. It’s me, peering into the future and seeing only darkness. I don’t have a clear picture of what is ahead yet. It all looks so dark and scary.
My head says, “It only looks so dark and scary because you don’t know where you are going yet. You’re still lost. Be gentle with yourself. Slow down, take a breath, find your bearings. Let’s look at the map together. We’ll find The Way. Don’t be afraid.”
My heart, lying in the ashes, cries. My eyes are closed to the Light. Fear is my companion, sorrow my bread.
Here is the Book of thy Descent,
Here begins the Book of the Holy Grail,
Here begin the terrors,
Here begin the miracles.
—The Grail Legend
Here begin the terrors. The fire burned, and then afterward, lying in the dark ashes, the terror overwhelmed me. But now, at least, it has my attention. I have been sleepwalking through my life, convinced that I was doing and being what I needed to be and going where I needed to go. But I was living a delusion. I was delusional and complacent—that is until something came along to shake me to my very foundation and awaken me to the reality and terror my own complacency.
In our sleep, pain, which cannot forget,
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair, against our will
comes the wisdom through the awful grace of God.
Here begin the miracles. While I moved through the fearsome fire and while I still sit in the ashes, I know that I am held in the Hand of God. That has been my miracle. And every so often, when I find the strength to look up through my tears, I see the blessings of the fire and find comfort in the ashes. I see the miracle of clear signs, signs of hope and direction; of the gentle coaxing of friends; of moments of clarity, of brief, decisive action; of Meaning sought and of Truth found.
And I am still here. Breathing. So that’s progress, right? I’m ready to find out what I am really capable of, who I really am. I’m ready—scared, but ready. I’m ready to come out of the ashes and into the Light.