Spirit in Action
A big part of the Synthesis process, perhaps the major part, is establishing physical, emotional and spiritual balance; it is the key to a client’s successfully creating change and transformation in their life, regardless of the nature of the issue that they wish to change. Clients almost always ask me why their spiritual energy is so important, and the very fact that they are in my office and have to ask is a big clue to the answer, which usually goes something like this:
Simply stated, Western society has become essentially disconnected spiritually and that is the source of almost all the issues—chronic stress, anxiety, fear, anger, unhealthy habits and emotional patterns and the limiting beliefs of unworthiness, personal insufficiency, etc— that prevent so many of us from living an empowered, joyful, healthy and abundant life.
Okay, so it’s one thing to issue a platitude, but I like practicality so I always endeavor to include practical examples to illustrate the importance of spiritual connection and living spiritually in creating a powerful, meaningful life. And very recently, I inadvertently received one of the very best examples I could ever receive, so I thought I would share it.
A little more than a week ago my mom passed away at 85. She had been pretty ill and the quality of her life had eroded immensely, so it was a blessing and a relief for us that she made her transition when she did, and yet we grieved as well. When the timeless spirit leaves the mortal body, those who are left must continue and it hurts.
Two days after her passing I faced the task of writing her obituary. I felt both a little overwhelmed by the challenge of synopsizing a life of 85 years in a few paragraphs, and also an intense desire to write something that would convey to everyone, both those who knew her and those who did not, just how and why she was so special.
She was not famous, nor had she achieved greatness as judged by the usual metrics of Western culture, biased as it is toward gauging an individual’s value and worthiness by the amount of material and financial abundance they acquire. And while she gave generously to several worthy causes, she was certainly no Mother Teresa. In fact, on the surface she was just an ordinary person who lived an ordinary life, who came and went without much fanfare. So what to write?
As I sat there in my conundrum, staring at the void on the screen under her name, “Irene McGrail, 1927-2013” centered at the top, staring at the pulsing cursor that reminded me of a heartbeat, it suddenly dawned on me that I was, by and large, very much at peace with her passing, and I realized that my peacefulness lay beyond the fact that her physical suffering was over. There was this even more important reason: the fact that our relationship had always been based upon a rock-solid spiritual connection, and I chuckled because while she did not consider herself at all spiritual, I could see that most of her life really had been extremely spiritual— spirit in action.
I must clarify that when I say spirit or spiritual I do not mean religion or religious. Religion and spirit can connect and integrate nicely, but in my experience they rarely do. What I mean by spirit is that intangible energy that defines our being, and when expressed freely, promotes and facilitates unconditional love, kindness and tolerance. It is the energy that compels living in balance with all beings and with all of nature and the Earth itself. She lived that way and taught it to me— spirit in action.
Spirit is the energy of curiosity, inspiration, creativity and learning. It is the energy that binds us together as kindred beings in open, honest communication. My mom was curious, inspiring, creative and passionate about learning and open communication; she instilled these qualities in me— spirit in action.
Spirit is the energy of honor, integrity and endurance while facing adversity, core values I learned mostly from her— spirit in action.
Spirit is the energy of understanding, empathy and compassion for others. Years ago, my mom was the adult that all my friends would seek out when troubled and feeling unable to talk to their parents. She would always take the time to listen first and then give counsel, not in a condescending, parental manner, but rather in a friendly and collegial one. They listened and grew stronger; I watched and learned— spirit in action.
Again, she would not say that she was spiritual, and in her elder years before her illness she became disillusioned with what she saw as a terrible rent in the fabric of society, with ever increasing violence and equally declining decency and civility. She grew to feel un-needed and irrelevant. She became pretty negative about life and sometimes it was hard for us to remember the dynamic, vivacious and progressive person she had always been. When I suggested meditation for easing stress and feeling at peace, she rolled her eyes in mild disdain as if to say it was too late for that for her.
But as her days on Earth drew to a close, she was vividly reminded of who she had been through the almost constant flow of daily visitors. Among them and most striking for me were so many of my childhood friends to whom she had given so freely of herself and her spirit so long ago. Love, laughter and warmth pervaded her room every day, and each of them left thanking her for being her. She reveled in it, and we literally watched her spirit re-emerging, in many ways stronger than ever as she was reminded how powerful a force she had been in so many lives and for so long.
A few weeks before she passed—and she and we all knew it was fairly imminent—I told her I was planning on coming east to spend an extended period of time with her. She admonished me, ordering me to stay in California to tend to my clients. She said, “It’s not about the end of our time together, it’s about the body of it, the whole, and we’ve had many great years. You need to take care of your clients, not me; they need you!”
Thankfully, I managed to do both, but how I appreciated her unselfish love and concern both for my well-being and for those who are in my care. I am filled with that love and appreciation every time I think of her, for had it not been for her and her spirit, I could not do what I do— spirit in action. Through the power of our spirit, we can transcend anything.