Wednesday, September 16, 2009

soulspace.....part one....

In a tent called Hebron on Saturday morning, I met two women attending the Greenbelt Festival together. We spoke briefly but somehow managed to step deeply into a place where empathy resides. We understood one another. Good thing since it was empathy we were supposed to be talking about!

One woman openly admitted to how tired she was. Bone tired. Depleted. She felt she had no more empathy to give. As a Pastor, she had given up her last ounce of caring. 7 funerals in quick succession, she oversaw the grief of many. As a wife of a husband who is disabled, she had stretched herself beyond love. Her soul was parched. Her eyes were swimming in unfallen tears, ready to spill down her drawn face.

Her goal in attending a "talk" at Greenbelt on Empathy was to gather information in order to be a better Minister. It was supposed to be a cerebral exercise. Instead, it became a personal need...a heart and soul experience. I said...... "I think you're here to fill your own boots......Put aside your original goal. Spend the weekend filling your own boots.... You know what they say about putting on the oxygen mask on a plane? You put your own on first before you try to help another."

The other woman agreed, and encouraged her friend to look after herself .... to seek what she needed at Greenbelt, not what others may learn from her. Her tears fell..........she smiled. I could sense relief. This caring, giving, strong willed woman was given permission to let go. To soften.

As she softened, I realized why my need to attend Greenbelt was so strong. It was like a lightbulb went on inside my head. I was there to fill my own, I mean wellies... :) Sometimes its easier to see it in others before you can recognize it in yourself. And when you take a step into a conversation beyond the surface chatter, there's a pretty good chance you will glean insight into your own stuff.

Whatever triggers us to a point where we engage heart to heart with someone is more often than not tied to where we are personally. Does that make sense?? In other words, our ability to understand where someone else is emotionally comes from a place of where we are emotionally. Humans mirror one another. We may have very different set of circumstances and struggles, our thinking brains may be wired differently, but we always connect at an emotionally spiritual level because we share the same bag of feelings.

Looking into the teary eyes of this woman, I was touched. I found myself transported to a place to where self awareness sits waiting to be discovered. I could see it happening in her as well. Whoa. One split second look into each others eyes linked us to a place of understanding one another's needs. They were the same..... Strangers.....and then in one brief moment of sharing in a tent called Hebron? Empathy kicked in and took us to a shared nod of knowing. While this was happening in the moment, my thoughts quickly linked to what had been described to me by Pip and Paul as a "Greenbelt moment...." It was one of many that day and it wasn't until I returned home that I saw the synchronicity of them. Kind of spooky really...........but SO affirming.

Then, it was her turn.....she asked me if I had been to Soulspace.

"Soulspace.....? No, I havent....I don't even know what it is."

She described a setting they had found the night before, situated on the fifth level of the Cheltenham Racecourse grandstand. Not only did it offer an amazing view of the whole area.....the valley where the campsites, venues and tents were located and the beautiful rolling hills which surrounded it, it offered a sanctuary....a place to find quiet.

My new friends shared with me how deeply moving it was to walk into Soulspace, tired and dragged out from life knocking the wind out of you, and feeling a sense of sacredness. I could see just how this place had impacted them. Their smiles told me. I could hear it too..... there was a feeling of whispered reverence, of awe in their voices. I learned how emotionally uplifting it was for them in a surprising way when they admitted that it had moved them to tears. Just by describing the setting, I could FEEL the oxygen filling them up with fresh air. They encouraged me to go........ go on up to Soulspace.

We left the Hebron tent together, but quickly said our goodbyes and wished one another well. And for the first time in the two days I had been there, I felt very alone in a sea of people. The crowds had boosted to 20,000 people, and I only knew a handful, all of whom were busy volunteering and connecting with their old Greenbelt friends. I also felt extremely tired. Two "wee hours" gatherings , and a few earlier in the week and my energy felt depleted. I think the combination of being overwhelmed by the fact that when I looked out at everyone passing by I saw unfamiliar faces.... no one I recognized at all..... and the fact that I was tired, I kind of lost my footing at that point. I began to wander, unable to make a decision as to what I wanted to take in next.

I walked....grabbed a tea and a toasted sandwich (comfort food) and continued an seemingly aimless trek, in and out of venues with displays that were thought provoking, disturbing, welcoming, interesting...... I didn't talk to anyone. I could've, but I didn't have the confidence to put myself out there at that particular time. So, I stayed within myself. And what I heard as I wandered was the word...... soulspace. I must've heard it uttered 10 times in the course of two hours....

Soulspace.....people were talking about this place...... whether they had been there or not, I didn't know. But, it was entering the collective awareness of the Festival. The more I heard the word uttered the more it felt mysteriously alluring. Who doesn 't like a good mystery to stir one's curiosity?? But, it also made me skeptical. It was so meaningful to those two women I had met..... what if I went there and I didn't feel the same? Or worse, what if it brought up too many emotions and I would lose any semblance of control I had?

What if Soulspace ended up being some new age thing that didn't sit with my personal beliefs? And did I really want to feel as deeply as they did? It's a vulnerable place to go when you allow yourself to be that open spiritually. I continued to wander and wonder, "stuck in a moment," unwillingly to "go there" with my feelings tucked so gingerly under my skin.

I watched a group drumming.....and was so moved by a young man whose body was impacted by cerebral palsy, whose smile was as wide as JOY can be. His father was holding the drum.... this young man, included in the drumming circle with full love and belonging, banged on his drum as best that he could. Ah..... beautiful..... He reminded me so much of the kids and teens I used to work with at the Rehab centre so many years ago.... he was familiar even though I didnt know him personally.

I moved on...... and found myself lured into the music of Kadialy Kouyate who was performing from the Grandstand stage.... Tired and pulled into the sound I found a spot on the grass off to the side of the stage, and laid down to listen to his beautiful music. Families and groups of friends were all around me. I still felt all alone, but I was relaxed and ready to listen. (It wasn't until that night when Pip and I realized we were both at the same concert and both enjoyed it immensely.... I should've known he wasn't too far away. :) )

The only way I can think of describing where I was emotionally while surrounded by a sea of people was in a place outside of the margins. I chose to be there. I could've easily jumped into a variety of events or a conversation. I could've PUT myself into the middle of fellowship, but I didn't seem to have the energy,. Too many late nights in a row had caught up to me. Strangely, I was alright with that. I kind of knew I should just be..... What was niggling at me was my aversion to finding this Soulspace place. It wasn't until I was so spent (low ebb energy for me kicks in around 3pm most days .... I AM a morning person). that I finally decided to seek out this mysterious place that seemed to be haunting my thinking, that could possibly be a place to really rest. So, around that time, I decided I needed to find a place to close my eyes. I set out to find Soulspace on the top floor of the Grandstand....

5 flights of stairs... I climbed, still unsure as to what I was about to find. or how it would make me FEEL. I was winded by the time I reached the doors to the lobby area and wondering if I really would feel a sense of welcome and respite. However, when I opened the doors my eyes alighted on two familiar women who were sitting with their backs to me looking out the window quietly. They were the only two people in the lobby. I couldn't believe it! There they were!!!

Smiling, I walked up behind them, put my hands on their shoulders lightly and said..............

" You know, I think Heaven is easier to find than Soulspace......"

With that, my two new friends whom I had met in the tent called Hebron leapt to their feet and gave me the most amazing group hug.

"YOU made it! " they said.

One of them said.........."you're our soulsister! How amazing that you arrived here at the same time that we are here too. We just spent an hour sitting quietly in there and it was just the right medicine for our tired souls...."

And the other woman........ the Pastor who admitted earlier in the day that she was drained of all empathy? She put her hands on my arms, turned me around and said.... "Go on in. You will love it. Go on in and fill your boots....."

With that, I tentatively turned towards the door with a full heart connection to these women...... and decided to find out just what this Soulspace was all about.

More to come...... :)


BlazngScarlet said...

Ooohhhh ..... from what you've described so far, I could use some of that!

Soulspace ....
even the name conjures up serene, peaceful and meaningful images.

Gilly said...

Whatever I write would sound so trite. I envy you,Dana - the freedom to be on your own, the ability to allow your parched soul to soak up refreshment.

I am so very pleased you found depth at Greenbelt.

Awareness said...

Scarletina.... in hindsight, I think I needed the wandering before I made it there. It helped create some soulspace. :) It's a great name isn't it?

Gilly....I really did and many serendipitous moments to enhance my experience. It was quite freeing to be on my own, but it also was difficult at times too. It was the discomfort I guess which often pushed me forward.

Anonymous said...

It sounds simply wonderful and I can't wait to find out what happened when you entered those doors. I will get to your email Dana but I'm just exhausted today.

Awareness said...

Gypsy....I hope to post it tonight or tomorrow. This working stuff is getting in the way. :) What a busy week!!! Plus we're coping with a little flu bug. School started last week and already stuff is spreading around the classrooms!!!!