If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation. — Lao TzuLast Sunday I gathered up an eclectic mix of women and hosted a gathering at my house. Everyone brought something to add to our buffet style "table of plenty" and we spent the afternoon taking and eating and sharing - our food, our stories, our selves and most importantly, our hearts.
Although most of the women gathered had never met before Sunday, there was an instant comfort and connection in our coming together. As the afternoon went on, each of us would comment that it felt as though we had all known each and been gathering around a table for years. And the stories we shared with each other were incredible - stories of adversity and hardship and courageousness and reclaiming and awakening.
Stories about taking something that broke our heart or our spirit and making something good come out of it - a way to make a difference in the world, a way to help ease another's suffering - story after story of doing something instead of nothing and bringing a little light into what had before been only darkness.
Stories of coming home to ourselves; of brave women who recognize that the greatest gift we each have to give each other and the world are our stories of self-transformation.
I have always believed that there is no darkness greater than the light and that there is nothing that cannot be healed or transformed through love, which is probably why the above quote from Lao Tzu spoke so strongly to me this morning.
I don't know why bad things happen to really good people. I can't tell you why children are born to parents that don't know how to love or nurture them, or why husbands leave, or best friends betray you, or you're fired from a job you love or someone in your life chooses drug or drink or suicide despite your best efforts to save them from themselves.
Nope, I don't know why - even after spending a whole lot of years trying. My answers were never found in the "why" but rather in the "how" - how can I use (this) to help others? How can I use (this) to bring light into the darkness?
As Helen Keller is quoted as saying, "Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it" and that is what kept repeating through my mind this last Sunday as I listened to the stories of the women gathered around me.
As I listened to my own.
If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation. — Lao Tzu