Takes a Village / Community / Tribe
by Cheryl Rompa
Lammas 2003, Vol 2-4
MatriFocus, a Cross-Quarterly Web Magazine for Goddess Women Near & Far
She changes everything she touches and everything she touches changes.
Change - Transform - Shift - Modify - Alter: What interesting words for such a chaotic, debilitating and exhilarating energy. What is this energy we chant about with such abandon during rituals? Why does change take us not only to our worst fears but also to our greatest accomplishments? Are we not in a constant state of change; a continuous motion? The Earth rotates, the moon cycles, our hearts beat, our skin sheds, our bodies move, a life ends and a new one begins. We are always changing. Yet when relationships come to an end and people go away it's very hard to keep an attitude of acceptance, something I've been struggling with lately..
Sometimes change is subtle and slow; other times it's swift and leaves us breathless. Often we can't see the benefits of change when it's happening; and it is especially hard when we don't want it to happen at all. In nature it is often tornado, hurricane, flood or fire that changes our surroundings. "It is an act of nature," we say, and go about the job of rebuilding our lives again. Do we say the same thing when relationships end and communities shift? It can be a mystery why things need to change, and most of the time we're not in control of what's happening. That's where the fears and the grief come in.
I once had a therapist who said to me "The only thing you can count on is that everything will change." I thought I had that one down until recently, when my whole community went into flux at a time when I'm living in a constant state of survival. At first, all the old coping mechanisms came roaring back into my life and with them, all the craziness that is so familiar. One of these changes is happening in my home. I have a disability that affects my mobility and a personal living assistant lives with me to help with many daily things. The wonderful woman who has been caring for me just moved to the west coast to follow her dreams. I am so happy for her, and I am also sad: I miss her and how easily we worked together. The job of finding her replacement is an arduous process. The emotions that have surfaced while facing this change often tap into my deepest fears and challenge my resiliency.
The other major change I'm going through right now is the ending of a ritual group I have been part of for several years. Even though I still have ongoing relationships with the women in the group, I will miss the planned times we had together. I counted on and gained so much from the rituals we shared, and I am experiencing a big hole in my life that feels enormous.
How do we get through the emotions of sadness, grief, and disappointment when things that were once so familiar now become confusing and mystifying? When it seems like everything is changing, how do we cope? How can our relationships survive this kind of movement? Why do some relationships make it for the long haul and others don't? What does it take to get through these transformations? Is it necessary to have so much disruption for the Goddess to do her work? Or are these things just "acts of [human] nature"?
It would be very easy to slip into isolation and try to ignore all that's changing right now. For nearly two years, my magic and energy have been focused on working, with others, to divert planetary disaster following the events of September 11, 2001, and most recently on minimizing the effects of the war in Iraq. Like many others, I am exhausted from this work. Entering a period of personal chaos in such a depleted condition has made for an interesting rollercoaster ride with my emotions. For awhile, I felt alone with my fears and uncertainty. When I was finally able to look around me and notice that others were feeling these things, too, I could see that the changes taking place in my close community were a microcosmic reflection of things happening in my broader communities -- in my town, nation and world.
So, how do you deal with change? Are you the kind of woman who puts her head in the sand and waits for the windstorm to be over? Are you like me, a fearful little bunny looking desperately for my rabbit hole to go down? Or are you like the tree with deep roots planted firmly in the Mother and long branches that sway with the wind? However we deal with the disorder of change, somehow we always seem to make it to the other side. We build new ways to get our needs met and practice new skills to further our journeys. We put one foot in front of the other and do the next thing. We give thanks for our blessings and grieve our losses. We cry and we scream and we yell until our hearts seem broken in two, and then we go on -- because that's what we're here for, to live in this constantly changing world and love each other the best we can.
Maybe it's true what my therapist said about change. Maybe it is the only thing we can count on; maybe change is what makes being alive the interesting journey that it is. My mom once gave me a copy of a poem, Attitude, by Charles Swindoll, and one of the lines keeps coming to me:
"I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."
As my relationships and communities are changing, I am aware that I have a choice in how I react. I choose to come up out of the rabbit hole of fears and plant my roots firmly in the earth. I want to have an attitude of acceptance and the strength to bend but not break as the storm passes over.
I hope as your life
is changing right now that the Goddess holds you gently in Her arms and
cradles you with a firmness of reassurance and stability in this time
of change. Goddess Bless!