Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reveal, Release, Transform: The Soul's Journey

My parents loved to read. They loved the language of a well-told story, especially historical fiction, and passed that love for reading down to my sister and me. Sometimes my mother or father would share a story from their own childhood as a value lesson. My grandmother in Oregon loved to take me out into her garden where I would help her pick peas or feed her flock of chickens that cackled and scratched around the yard. I always felt as if my parents and grandparents, especially my mother and maternal grandmother,  saw me as their hope for a better future. They courageously dreamed new dreams for me, hoping to release old family limitations and patterns in their own life.

I remember times during my childhood that were filled with laughter, times when my mother, my sister, and myself would be thrown into hysterics by an unexpected mishap during one of our songfests or a family outing. We would roll on the floor giggling! I have passed many of those stories on to my children and hope they will be shared long after we are gone.

But I'm also keenly aware of the many secrets my parents and grandparents harbored. There are family secrets that I have spent a lifetime uncovering, trying to unravel the patterns that have unfolded throughout my own life, patterns repeating themselves over and over again in my family's history. What was my mother hiding and why? Why were my grandmothers so angry at the world? Why did my father mistrust anyone who got too close to him? Was it shame, guilt, fear, or self-judgment? How can I shift their grief into positive lessons for healing, not only for myself but also for my ancestors and my descendants?

I just finished reading a beautiful story, The Silence of Trees, by Valya Dudycz Lupescu. Here's what an editorial review on says about this book:

"Too often the women of history have been silenced, but their stories have power - to reveal, to teach, and to transform. This is one such story. In Chicago's Ukrainian Village, Nadya Lysenko has built her life on a foundation of secrets. When Nadya was sixteen, she snuck out of her house in Western Ukraine to meet a fortuneteller in the woods. Ignoring the threat of Nazis and Russians, Nadya was driven by love and a desire to learn the unknown. She never expected it to be the last time she would see her family. Years later, Nadya continues to be haunted by the death of her parents and sisters. She clings to her traditions and stories from Ukraine, the only parts of her past that she can share with her family. The myths and magic of Nadya's childhood are still a part of her reality: house spirits misplace keys and glasses, dreams unite friends across time and space, and a fortuneteller's cards predict the future. Her beloved dead also insist on being heard, through dreams and whispers in the night. They want the truth to come out. Nadya needs to face her past and confront the secrets she buried within-THE SILENCE OF TREES."

This book has stirred my sleeping and waking dreams with thoughts about my own story and how I can use it to reveal, to teach, and transform myself and others. It brings up memories of my father and my mother and the parts of their stories I know and the parts I don't know. As I grow older I realize that both of them wanted their daughters to love them and respect them. They wanted my sister and me to experience success and happiness and they wanted us to love and respect them.

But neither of my parents loved themself. My grandmothers were angry and felt that the world had been unfair to them. There were too many secrets in their closets that brought personal shame, disappointment, and fear. The untold stories created festering wounds and they were afraid that they would be rejected if the family knew who they really were. They never felt safe enough to look deep within and release the subconscious beliefs that lay hidden deep within their very being.

It's only now, having reached the maturity of my 60's, that I have come to have deep compassion for my parents and grandparents and have uncovered enough of their personal histories to allow forgiveness and healing to permeate my inherited DNA, releasing and transforming the past for my ancestors and the future for my descendants. 

My prayer is that I find ways to share my own story with my children and grandchildren - to reveal, to teach, and transform. As I move through elder-hood, may I remember the lessons learned from my parents and grandparents and my own childhood and weave these memories into the fabric of my relationships with the people I love. May I be transparent in the journey I have taken to get to this point in my life and may I release any secrets that need to be transformed.

"Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey." ~ John O'Donohue (Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom)

Blessings of peace, love, and light ~ Gretchen