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A Shared Life of Wrestling, Growth, and Discovery

Blessed and Beloved

Gary, you are blessed!” Such was the short sentence from my Pathwork Helper Moira Shaw in response to my sending her my most recent version of the Devotional Format of Pathwork Lecture #250 that I finished creating yesterday.

I wasn’t sure exactly what her words, “you are blessed,” meant. I noticed that part of me wanted her to say, “Gary, you are a blessing!” This would have been a statement satisfying my vanity or reinforcing my sense of purpose for my life by validating the usefulness of this devotional format of the Pathwork lectures I have been creating now for several years. I’ve always associated my purpose  with giving something worthwhile to others, that is, with being a blessing to others. With this “being a blessing to others” as my focus, I’ve missed the blessing of  being blessed by others.

But no, Moira’s words were not, “You are a blessing,” rather, “You are blessed!” As I pondered further the word “blessed,” I could quickly see from my brain that yes, indeed, I am blessed, and in so many ways. Perhaps in particular I am blessed by these Pathwork lectures that I find so nourishing and inspiring to my life. But for some reason I realized in my pondering that while I know in my head that I am blessed, I have not had a deep felt sense of this “being blessed” in my body and heart, that is, in my emotional being. How odd, to not feel blessed in my heart and body when, upon  even the most superficial glance from my intellect, I realize objectively and factually that I am blessed, so very blessed.

Quickly, in my mind, the words “being blessed” morphed into “being loved.” And again I saw that I struggle to consider myself being loved, or, more accurately, I struggle to feel in my heart and body, the warmth of being loved. This struggle is most perplexing when I am reminded often by family and friends that, in truth, I am loved. For some reason the warmth of love just does not register in me as a felt sense below my neck in my heart and body.

Pat and I are working intensely in this arena of feeling the warmth of our connection, allowing such feeling of warmth between us to register more fully in a body and heart domain.

In our process of years of Pathwork self-confrontation and inquiry we have gradually uncovered the notion that perhaps an attachment disorder is blocking my world of feeling the warmth of love and connection. As is true for so many, this attachment disorder relates to my original connection to my mother, whom I remember as emotionally and physically distant, cold, and unavailable to me as a young and growing child. And I suppose further that she was also unavailable  to me as an infant from birth – I have a hunch that I was not really welcomed into this world as I was – especially coming in as I did, screaming and by way of a sudden and unexpected last-minute C-section.

This attachment disorder, of course, is not my mom’s “fault.” Such attachment disorders are generational and come from a line of German Lutheran families that constitute my lineage on both Mom’s and Dad’s side of the family. Mom was likely not held and cuddled by her mom, and so on back into generations even back in Germany. And, alas, I have passed this attachment disorder on to my own kids and grandkids. In confessing this, I am in no way torturing myself with guilt and shame, but rather simply feeling remorse for my ignorance and limitation in my current level development as I manifest as Gary in this material world. Today the matter of various forms of attachment disorder is surfacing more clearly as a major issue in our culture, leading to new modalities of treatment such as somatic experiencing and others.

So I am not alone in my attachment disorder that blocks my capacity to feel in my body and heart the warmth of love and connection. However what is perhaps new is that Pat and I, early in our eighth decade, have the privilege of being given the time and support needed to explore and heal the “young ones” within us that were affected by the coldness of this lack of attachment.  This healing is now the centerpiece of our work with our couple counselors Sage Walker and Anthony Wilson with whom we have been working intensely now for nearly four years. To have this time as well as the resources to do this work is truly a blessing. So yes, “Gary, you are blessed!”

As I further pondered being and feeling blessed and beloved, I was taken back nearly 16 years to August of 2000 and a weeklong directed retreat at which Julie Murray, my spiritual director for that retreat, discerned that, based upon what I had shared with her, I could likely be helped by a program called Pathwork. She summarized where I was as, “Gary, you are very serious about your spiritual development, but you need a lot of help! The only place I know of to get the level of help you need is at the Sevenoaks Pathwork Center in Virginia.” Before the retreat in August of 2000 ended I had signed up for my first Pathwork program at Sevenoaks. Yes, as a result of this one blessed incident with Julie, Pathwork would open me up and become my spiritual path!

On the last day of my weeklong retreat Julie said she was inspired to share with me a short poem to which she thought I would relate. The short poem, titled  Late Fragment, was the dialog between a young man and an old man and goes like this: And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so? I did. And what was it that you wanted? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on this earth. I remember this poem as if Julie gave it to me yesterday. This remembering after nearly 16 years in itself says I am on the right track in my spiritual development – driven by an inner voice seeking to feel myself beloved on this earth!

In the summer of 2001, after I had finished the first of five years of the Pathwork Transformation Program at Sevenoaks, one of the Pathwork counselors approached me and said that earlier in the morning it had come to him that he should tell me that he received a message for me from Spirit. The short message was, “Gary, you are my beloved son.” Being a long-time bible student, I could not miss the connection to the words given to Jesus at his baptism (right before his temptation in the wilderness) and again on the mountain at his transfiguration (in the middle of his ministry before going into Jerusalem to face his suffering and death).

As with the Late Fragment poem, this simple sentence, “You are my beloved son,” has stuck with me these many years. Perhaps it is the only specific thing I remember from that first year of the Pathwork Transformation Program. But it remains the compass of my life.

I am amazed at how all the pieces of the puzzle that is my life keep falling into place, year by year – even day by day or hour by hour. And as I allow myself to feel myself both blessed and beloved, I can enter more fully into my embodiment – and from there Pat and I can then continue our evolution and development, and enter more fully into the union we sense we are called to manifest on this earth plane.  

In closing, I smile in realizing that nearly every Pathwork lecture begins with a blessing, a blessing that has always been meaningful to me and not merely a polite introduction of the lecture. And as I glance at Lecture 250, on which I just completed the devotional formatting yesterday, I see it begins with the blessing, “Greetings and blessings, my very beloved friends.” OK, I get it!

I pray to more fully absorb, on a felt level, the truth both of the blessedness and the belovedness that emerge continuously both from within and from the universe that surrounds and holds us all!

Shared in love on this 2016 Valentine’s Sunday, Gary

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Gary Vollbracht