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The Divine in the Broken: Spirituality Amidst Suffering and Trauma

As much as I remember I have always been fascinated by the labyrinthine journey of human existence, the unresolved aspects of the self, and the perplexing duality of our nature.

I remember very early childhood memories of spending countless hours of what I now know was a full compassionate presence, with the twigs on the ground, the creepy crawlers, the night sky, and the unexplainable mystery that dwells in the leaf of every tree.

As I deepened my exploration, I found deep within the recesses of my soul unresolved fragments, like shards of glass, scattered amidst the tapestry of my being. Suffering, trauma, and the perpetual quest for resolution always revealed these fragments with an enigmatic allure, demanding my attention, tearing the veil of normalcy, and beckoning me constantly towards introspection. I guess this. Gift of curiosity and constant “why” and “how” led me to what I will get to know later as “the great mystery”.

Within this intricate web of human experiences, the notion of spirituality emerged as a guiding light, illuminating my path, and my life, toward a deeper understanding of myself and my fellow human family, and the essence of existence.

Yet, what I first pursued as a means of seeking perfectibility or attaining an illusory state of fixity, became quite soon an invitation for the divine to dwell within the labyrinthine corridors of our unfixedness.

As Michael Yaconelli profoundly articulated, "Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God being present in the mess of our unfixedness."

To comprehend the profound nature of the self, we must first embark on an expedition to the very core of our being—a journey through a labyrinth that holds both beauty and terror.

Just as suffering is an intrinsic part of the human experience, so too is the possibility for trauma to etch its mark upon our souls. The cracks on the perfect auric field we were born with as Grandmother ThreeCrow spoke to me so eloquently well about.

Trauma, the haunting presence that stirs unrest within, takes on various forms—whether it be a solitary incident that rends the fabric of our lives, or an incessant accumulation of subtle wounds. Its effects reverberate through the chambers of our hearts, disrupting the tranquility we once knew, and leaving us grappling with the fragments of our shattered selves. Without inquiry and care, this will soon become our way of being and the illusion of the self.

Yet it is often in the face of suffering and trauma that we instinctively yearn for resolution, striving to piece ourselves back together like a mosaic striving to regain its original form. But it is precisely within the cracks of our existence that we discover the presence of the divine. In the messiness of our unfixedness, there is lying an invitation for vulnerability and surrender—an invitation for God to abide with us.

Our world constantly teaches us that there is a “perfect” version of the self, often molded by a sick system, which can lead us very far from resolution and make us bend towards “fitting in” instead of “belonging.”

“I have been shamed for my joy and shamed for my pain” shared Robin Rose Bennett, the green Witch in a recent interview with me. I am pretty sure you experienced this in your life. I've lost count of how many times the emotional one is labeled the 'crazy one' when they are suffering due to emotional abuse, and the one appearing calm, collected, charming & coherent is actually the 'crazy' & abusive one. Appearances can be deceiving.

In truth, it is through embracing our vulnerabilities, witnessing the brokenness within ourselves, and allowing the divine to coexist within those dark recesses, that we may embark on a truly transformative journey toward healing.

The realization that spirituality resides not in perfection, but rather in the acknowledgment and acceptance of our flawed nature, opens us to the profound depths of self-discovery. It is in these depths where we can face our traumas head-on, embracing the fear and pain that lie dormant within, and allowing the divine essence to enfold us in its eternal embrace. The presence of God within our unfixedness enables us to transcend the limitations of our earthly existence, connecting us to a resonating truth that reverberates through the intricacies of our being.

Those are often described as moments of Grace, where we learn that surrendering is not the same as acceptance, and that wisdom arises from the places of not knowing. Another aspect that is counter-culture and that Western logic that constantly seeks to fix, isolate, and exclude the wounds instead of understanding the wounded.

So, as we voyage further into the chasms of our own personal labyrinth, we can encounter a sacred communion with the unresolved fragments within ourselves. In unexpected places, times, and ways.

We come to recognize that the journey towards wholeness is not anymore one of fixing, but of embracing the brokenness that resides within, for it is within these fragments that the divine presence finds its dwelling. And for that to happen we need to cultivate an intimate relationship between God and our suffering, in order for the alchemy of transformation to transpire and birth newfound freedom and liberation.

If we could embody this more often, and offer it with compassion to others, we would definitely see our world and its brokenness from a very different angle. We would finally stop fighting and start loving. A medicine of truth could flow through the collective to allow the healing we are desperately in need of.

Michael Yaconelli's profound words encapsulate today for me the essence of spirituality. The quest for spiritual enlightenment is not a search for an elusive state of perfection, but rather an invitation to embrace the messiness of our unfixedness. And it is within this sacred mess that the presence of the divine resonates, forging a path towards healing, self-discovery, and transcendence.

As we invite God to abide with us in the unresolved places within our souls, we embark upon a soul-opening journey, inviting reflection into the depths of our human nature and the transformative power of suffering and trauma.

So, let’s open a dialogue here. Have you experienced this divine intimacy that resides in the brokenness of our existence? How did it spark transformative changes in your life, if any? Do you agree that spirituality resides not in perfection but in acknowledging our flawed nature, and if so, how does this understanding influence your day-to-day life?

Without such inquiry, we will keep bleeding on the people who have not cut us.

Angell Deer

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As I sit here near the banks of the Snake River, the sun is behind the mountains. It is dark and the moon glistens light on the flowing water. The words you speak bring so much. The soothing of believing/knowing all of these cracks in my body are being licked with the Balm of Gilead. It is so true. Yes it is so true. Thank you Angell


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