Friday, July 23, 2010
When I began describing some of my results in columns 3 and 4, the ones where you list competing commitments and underlying assumptions, she didn't say much but I could see her brain was churning.
As we began packing up to leave, she stopped and said, "You know, it's really all about my mother." And we began sharing a little about our respective childhoods; there were some startling similarities.
And so, this morning, as I continued reading in David Whyte's The Heart Aroused, I was particularly struck by this passage. Whyte is talking about Beowulf, and the hero's efforts to defeat the monster Grendel and its mother. And here's what he says:
"What are the modern corporate equivalents of these repressed monsters writhing just below the surface of our professional life? We can list a few of many. Most important: unresolved parent-child relationships that play out into rigid company hierarchies, paternal management systems, and dependent employees; unresolved emotional demands individuals may have of fellow workers but will never admit to themselves; the refusal to come to terms with an abused childhood; the subsequent longing for self-protection and the wielding of organizational power and control at any cost to gain that protection. Perhaps the parent of all these vulnerabilities is Beowulf's mother herself, the deep physical shame that we are not enough, will never be enough, and can never measure up."
Well, ouch! As a mother myself, I resent the connection he draws between mother and shame. But still, he's giving clear voice to the patterns I'm uncovering. And, hard though they may be to face into, knowing they are there can clearly help me not to project them so consistently onto others.
So then, last night, I found myself working on this image, yet another from last week's excursion to Port Townsend. I haven't altered it in any way except to heighten the colors and shift them into a range that works for me; otherwise its ingredients are as I found them.
As I examine the image, it could be two faces, one a reflection of the other; the way you can see my mother's face in mine. But what I really see as I step back from it is boldness and courage, a determination to carry light into the dark corners, a willingness to face into the wind and let it pare me down to essence and bone. And that circle around the figure, I think, is divine protection; that which shelters me when I choose to brave the storm. And so I take heart, and know this walk will take me where I need to go and empower me to serve more effectively in the end; that wherever, however, and whomever I may serve, my service will be enlivened and enriched by what I'm learning on the journey.
Posted by Diane Walker at 8:22 AM