Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher


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Our human condition is a journey through love.

 

Choices is an experiential journey. It is an exquisitely constructed series of teachings and processes that have been honed and developed over 35 years to fulfill on founder, Thelma Box’s vision of Changing the world one heart at a timeFor over 35 years, Thelma Box, Mary, Joe and Greg Davis have created a safe and courageous space for people to step into the wonder and awe of discovering who we truly are when we let go of the negative self-talk and self-defeating games we all inevitably employ to protect our hearts and keep ourselves safe from being hurt by others or to prevent them from seeing we are hurting.

We humans are interesting beings. We are all born magnificent. It is our birthright.

We come into this world crying out for belonging, for love, for connection and then life happens and we quickly forget the birthright of our magnificence as we adapt our behaviours to meet life’s sometimes confusing, sometimes challenging, sometimes painful teachings. We walk through each day into unknown and known places, face strangers and people we know fearing they are judging us, measuring our journey against theirs, or examining our flaws with such intensity we feel naked or invisible. We try to hide in plain view, or stand out in anger, contempt, judgement fearing we will never find peace, love, hope, joy, contentment and in our fear, do everything we can to prevent ourselves from having what we want.

In our struggle to get what we want, we set bars so high we cannot see them or don’t set them at all because we are convinced we will never reach them. And in our fear of constantly having to measure up or our fear of continually falling short, we do not see, it is our judgements of ourselves that are hurting us most. It is our negative self-talk that is killing our dreams. It is our self-defeating games that are keeping us stuck living in the shadows of our fear; we do not matter, we are not worthy, we are unloveable.

At Choices, I am continually blessed to witness people awakening to their magnificence. I am blessed with being part of miracles unfolding as people open their eyes to the truth of who they are when they let go of fearing who they are will never be enough.

We are all enough. Exactly the way we are. Exactly as we were born to be before we forgot that our value is not found in the things we acquire or the things we do or people we know or places we’ve been. Our value is in our being present and true to our hearts. It is found in how we treat ourselves and one another. Our value is intrinsic to our nature of being human when we let go of fearing who we are and remember, we are all magnificent.

It was a beautiful and inspiring five days of connecting heart to heart to one another. Of seeing and hearing the beauty of each person’s heart beating freely and fiercely with the truth that who they are is greater than their fear that they were unworthy or undeserving of Love.

We are all deserving of Love, no matter our human condition, because our human condition is a journey through Love.


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Ubuntu – I am what I am because of who we all are

DIFFERENCES ARE NOT INTENDED TO SEPARATE, TO ALIENATE. WE ARE DIFFERENT PRECISELY IN ORDER TO REALIZE OUR NEED OF ONE ANOTHER.
~ DESMOND TUTU ~

When I first see them, they are just two men walking down the street in opposite directions on the same sidewalk.

The moment transcends ‘normal’ in one instant. As the two men pass eachother, one of the men strikes out and shoves the other man off the sidewalk onto the roadway. He falls to the ground and the other man continues to walk away.

The man on the ground jumps up. His hands are balled into fists. For one moment, he takes a belligerent stance, and then it’s gone. He’s standing facing the retreating back of the other man, his shoulders slumped forward, his arms hang loosely by his side.

I am sitting in my car, about to drive down the lane, away from the shelter where I used to work when this scene unfolded in front of me.

I am stunned. Bewildered.

I stop my car. Get out and approach the man who is still standing in the laneway. “Are you okay?” I ask.

He turns towards me. He is in his 50s, maybe 40s but it can be hard to tell sometimes how old someone who has lived the ‘streetlife’ really is, ‘the street’ can make you appear ten to fifteen years older.

“Yeah. I’m fine.” And he shrugs his shoulders and starts to walk towards the shelter.

“Is there anything I can do?” I ask.

He sighs. “No. I just got off work. I don’t wanna make no trouble. I just wanna lay down.”

I leave him, get back in my car and turn around back to the shelter. I follow him into the building. I want to make sure he’s okay.

At the security desk I wait until he’s checked in. “I’m sorry that happened to you,” I say. And I touch his shoulder with one hand.

“Yeah. Thanks.”

Tears form in his eyes. I wonder when someone last spoke to him kindly when he’s been hurt. Offered comfort. A gentle voice.

“Can I give you a hug?” I ask.

He looks at me surprised. “Sure. That would be nice.”

Later, at my meditation class I am deeply relaxed when our guide instructs us to ‘walk into the desert.’

“Walk with no intention,” says our guide. “There’s a figure walking towards you. Welcome them. See who it is.”

It is the man. Not the one who was thrown to the ground. It is the perpetrator.

He is a dark shadow. Dark clothes. Dark hair. Shrouded.

As he walks towards me I want to shake him. Rattle him. Ask him why he did it. Do something to ‘make him see’.

And I realize, he cannot see me. His world is too dark. Too shadowed to see there is light all around. He is beaten down in the darkness.

I stand and hold the light around him. It is all that I can do.

It was a powerful realization. To know that there was nothing I could do to ‘make him see’, or hear or be anyone or anywhere other than that moment right there.

In that realization I knew – he didn’t see the man he shoved. He saw — his past, the pain and anger of the moment, his powerlessness to change the past, his anger at the moment.

It doesn’t make what he did right. It does make my witnessing of what he did more understandable to me.

Sometimes people do things that hurt others. They strike out — with hands and fists and words and weapons of destruction. They strike out and we rail against the injustice, the inhumanity, the cruelty of what they did believing we would never do the same.

Standing in the desert in front of that man, I knew — I was capable of those same actions. His darkness exists in me because I can see it.

The only difference is — he can not yet see there is light within that darkness.

In Africa there is a word — Ubuntu. It means — ‘human-ness’, Humanity to others — “I am what I am because of who we all are”.

I cannot be me unless you are you and you cannot be you if I am not me.

That man’s darkness cannot exist without my darkness. And my light cannot exist without his light.

For him to see his light, I must be my darkness and light. Hold true to my being, without being pulled into darkness.

May we all be inspired by the power of our ability to inspire others, to be our most incredible selves, even in the face of darkness.

May we all live the truth of Ubuntu so that each of us can live peacefully in the light of knowing, we are all connected in our human-ness.