In the past, I have operated primarily through rationale and logic. Now, at The Seattle School, instead of relying on my ability to comprehend, understand, and analyze, I was being asked to wait, to ponder, and most of all to allow myself to be changed before looking for comprehension. It is scary, however, to stumble blindly forward and trust the process that has been prescribed instead of falling back on old understandings. I have felt caught in the vortex of frame-shifts spiraling toward a world view I can only vaguely sense. And yet, in the midst of the ideological maelstrom, a pragmatic suggestion arose that I immediately latched onto: Ignatian prayer.
Ignatian prayer consists of pondering the moments of greatest desolation and consolation in your day. While having little experience doing this type of prayer, it seemed to be a way of merging this process of pondering with an activity that I could intentionally engage in. I decided to give it a try on my bus ride home.
Despite the slight chaos of the bus environment, I was able to focus my thoughts on what immediately stood out as the moment of greatest desolation in my day. Earlier, upon experiencing this moment, I had steeled myself and moved on quickly so as not to dwell on what had happened, but on the bus I brought myself back to that place and gave myself permission to truly feel the hurt.
As the memory brought forth emotion, I felt the pull of countless stories from my past tugging on my mind and resonating with the dominant lurid melody of my moment. One particular story from my childhood fought its way to the surface and drowned out the others with its volume.
While the tears came and I averted my face so as not to alarm the other passengers on the bus, I was struck by the power of allowing myself to dwell. These memories had not been accessed so intimately in such a long time, if ever. I began to see themes and patterns of thought and action in the stories tied to the emotion brought forth in entering my moment.
A great sadness welled up within me for all of the hurt I had repeatedly endured, and yet, amidst the sadness there was also a relief in the unveiling of this pattern of abuse. Suddenly, I saw that this very moment of realization, even amidst the sadness and pain, was my moment of greatest consolation. Those pieces of my past, now unlocked through engaging my pain instead of running away from it, could be reintegrated with the larger narrative of my life.
Being at The Seattle School has not been easy—after all, how often does one enter the reliving of trauma willingly. However, though the prescribed process has been painful, through it I am becoming more fully connected to who I am as a result of my story. In that becoming, I am finding great consolation amidst my every desolation.