My Call to Helpership
Pat and I had been apart for five days. My life had been so full and I was glad that I could now share it with her in our Coffee Time on Monday morning. Of course Pat’s life was full as well, but she asked me to share first…
It has been weeks since I’ve blogged, mostly because of busyness. First was a week-long Ira-Progoff-type Journaling Retreat led by Faye Schwelitz that both Pat and I took two weeks ago. Then last week I assisited, with three others, in leading a year 1 class of 18 students in a 4-day segment of intense personal work connected with the Sevenoaks Pathwork Transformation Program. The former was called a Life Study, and the life I studied and related to was that of Albert Einstein – a very inspiring and relevant process for me. The latter, the role of being a Pathwork teacher, brought up lots of anxiety, so much so that in a conversation with my two Pathwork support partners on the Monday before the 4-day event began on Wednesday I really ranted at myself for getting myself into this situation. I was telling myself I was simply not cut out to be a true Pathwork Helper or Pathwork Teacher! The work did not feel natural, nor did I feel any true competence in supporting folks on their spiritual journey in this way.
Going into the intense weekend I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation on Pathwork Lecture 50 – The Vicious Circle. I really get into this creative process and am motivated and inspired by all that comes through me in such preparations (click here to see the presentation). But as soon as I’m done I become full of doubt about the presentation being at all worthwhile. I shared it with my three team members and got some helpful comments from them, but this “help” adds to my doubt about my even knowing how to make such presentations engaging for the students. I see that part of me wants applause from my teammates, not “help.” I smile as I write this.
In preparation I also printed out some quotes from my website, including one or two to share with the other leaders on the larger teaching team (ten of us in all). One of these that really spoke to me relates to leading emotional process work: Pausing Before the Mystery from the writings of Bert Hellinger (click here to open).
I left for Sevenoaks at 6:00 AM Wednesday morning. The drive to Sevenoaks from my house in Cincinnati is 478 miles and takes 8 hours. I often use this time to listen to Pathwork Lectures, especially those lectures relating to what I am teaching or learning. While I did some of that on this trip, I found that I was drawn to look at a photo I had of some of the people who were going to be students in our class. I also reviewed my sketchy notes on each student, and held each person in my attention, taking them in one by one, connecting with each of them. This process of connecting with each student (all of whom would be new to me), rather than listening to the lectures one more time, really settled me down. I relaxed during the drive. I arrived at Sevenoaks around 3:00 PM.
At our faculty meeting at 4:00 PM before the 4-day work process began I shared where I was and where I had been – the extreme mood swings from panic to calm and back again. I shared the Hellinger piece, and this was well received. I also shared a print of a heart painting by Margaret Copfer, a 3’ x 3’ painting that she painted ten years ago and to which she added the saying by Jack Kornfield, “Learn to See with the Heart, which Loves, Rather than with the Mind, which Compares and Defines.” (Click here to see) The other faculty members related to this and we set this print on the altar to remind us all of our need to always come from our hearts in this work.
Then, on Wednesday evening, the 4-day weekend began. When I met the 18 students I found I could relax a bit in their presence. I was glad that a calm came over me, and that, after having connected with each one on the long drive over, I could really take in these folks in real life, people whose souls are embarking upon this Pathwork Transformation Program.
There are many segments to these long weekends – check-ins to get to know where people are, ritual, movement, core energetic classes, Pathwork Lecture study, much sharing, and – Emotional Process work with each student who wishes to go there. While I could be very present for all of this, when it came to emotional process work, or the very thought of me, as one of the teachers, leading a process scene, I would begin to panic. Oh I could assist and support the other teachers as they led the various work scenes, but please, please do not ask me to lead one on my own! “Pausing Before the Mystery,” as is invited by the Hellinger piece I had shared earlier with the faculty, was my edge, my area of panic and place where I felt very much out of my element. To my relief, no processing took place Wednesday evening.
Thursday went well. The other leaders led the various rituals and teachings and the few processing sessions that came up. But in the background I was very nervous knowing that our leadership team was going to split up Thursday evening – two of us would be leading one half of the class and the other two of us the other half. How would I avoid having to lead process scenes here?! This cloud hung over me all day.
Before our processing time Thursday evening we had a community meditation led by one of our leaders. All 41 students and 10 faculty were in the Lighthouse space, 51 in all. As the meditation was led what came up for me was my fear to trust the Cosmos, or God, in leading emotional processing work. My mind supported this by taking me back to those familiar words from Pathwork Lecture 203 – anticipating how Pride, Self-Will, and Fear will come up as our defenses. (Click to open). So in leading a work scene I realized that my mind has no idea what is supposed to happen, what wants to happen naturally. So how insane it is to think that my pride and self-will will have to step in to manage the work scene in order to get a result that I have no idea is needed. How foolish. And yet, can I trust and just be of service to the Divine in leading a process scene? How blessed I was to be supported by this meditation going into the evening of emotional processing work.
And for whatever reason Thursday evening after the meditation I seemed able to do this “trusting of the Cosmos,” and some amazing results came out of our work together. It was hard to deny that Spirit had facilitated this work on the one hand, and yet on the other I noticed that my little ego was standing there ready to take credit. I am laughing at myself as I write this! Oh the tricks of my little ego!
Friday saw more processing, sharing, my presentation of Lecture 50, a ritual, and the like. No problem. I felt present and engaged, and so did the students. But then came Saturday – a day I knew would be from hell: an entire day of emotional processing. Yikes! I found I could be present through this all, but also I was able to avoid leading any work scene. Many times I had little or no idea what the other leaders were sensing into or doing with the worker doing his or her work. I would accept this cluelessness as evidence that Pathwork Helpership was NOT my calling. The clarity of this notion that I was not Called to be a Helper was so refreshing.
At the end of the day a couple of us leaders were meeting, and I expressed my gratitude for the clarity I was feeling around the issue of my being a Pathwork Helper. I am a cognitive-oriented person. I stay safe in knowing what I am doing, in being competent in what I am doing. I take my anxiety around NOT KNOWING as a sure sign that leading emotional processing work is NOT my call. If it were my call, I would not be so uncomfortable when in this space. I made my case to the others, and was relaxed in this knowing. They didn’t buy it completely, but I was convinced — and relieved in this knowing that I was not called to be a Helper.
Sunday morning came. I was very relaxed. Yes, we would have two more hours of emotional processing time, but two hours would be doable. And with three other leaders I would certainly not have to get involved in leading processing scenes. I could relax.
Earlier in the weekend the teaching team leader had shared that any one of the four of us could get an insight from Spirit about a particular student’s work and that that would be an invitation to step forward and lead the emotional processing scene for that student. These thoughts were tucked away inside of me. We began Sunday morning with a short go-round. Then the magical question, “Who wants to work?” Several did. The last person checking in, however, who just happened to be sitting next to me, did not see a need to work. Nothing was up … except an event coming up in the family over the next few weeks.
While the person did not see a need to work this family issue, I had that sense within that this was the person’s soul expressing a need to work this issue. Spontaneously I stood up, stepped forward and led the work scene. I received key help from other team members, but the scene unfolded nicely and resolved itself. I felt I had been effectively used by Spirit and sat down. Now I was really relaxed. I had even led a work scene in these last two hours. I was now definitely off the hook for any more leading of work scenes! I was feeling very relaxed and grateful.
Another student wanted to work. And it seemed to me, from the student’s eyes focused on me, that this student wanted to work with me. Correct or not, I led this work scene as well. While the details of what transpired with the student are strictly confidential, in leading this work scene I found myself transformed on some level, channeling and working with Jesus Christ as never before.
I was humbled and in awe beyond words by this experience. The night before I was in such clarity about NOT being a helper, and now Spirit was working powerfully, not just with the student I was facilitating but with me. Spirit was transforming my soul as well as that of the student. We both were being transformed in ways that transcended any cognitive knowing of what was happening. In the minutes immediately following this experience I noticed I was full of love for each student in the class. I could feel my love on a profound level, and shared this experience of love as the class closed.
As I sat with this experience I noticed I was in a new space with regard to helpership. I suddenly realized that a call to helpership is NOT a call to competency and away from incompetency. It is not becoming somehow “comfortable” with the work of leading emotional processing. Rather Helpership is the willingness to stand and pause before the Mystery, as Hellinger says. It is a willingness to NOT KNOW and yet show up! It is a letting go of having to know in order to be effective as a helper. This, for me, was a new experience, a Trust in the Mystery that unfolds within the worker, within my own being, and within the space we are in as the work proceeds. A Trust that all in the room are being impacted, getting exactly what they need! It is being open to what is arising in each moment, listening and seeing deeply both from without and within.
Then a new insight came in. This is a Call to serve as a helper, not a call to be successful as a helper. I guess in all my years I had not felt this clear about answering a call to SERVE. It reminds me of Moses being called before the burning bush. How he rationalized about not saying yes to the call. His excuse? “I am not competent!” God did not seem to care about Moses’ competence or incompetence or even of his enthusiasm or lack thereof for answering, “Yes.” The Call was to a place that transcended competence or incompetence, enthusiasm or resistance.
So I now get that the Call to Helpership is a call to service, a call to stand in the unknown, before the Mystery, until what wants to happen happens – and to tolerate not knowing. A willingness to jump into the abyss. I am incompetent AND I am competent, AND at times I am enthused (as in my PowerPoint presentations), AND at other times I resist with all my might, AND Helpership is not about being competent or incompetent, enthused or resistant. It is about being surrendered in each moment.
Pat: You experienced a felt sense of that surrendered place. Gary: This felt Call to Service for others is new to me. I have been in leadership, have considered myself competent in leadership, and was willing to serve from that sense of competence. It was about finding my talents and using them. But this is different. I really feel the call to serve others, irrespective of talents or gifts or competencies or enthusiasm or resistances. This aspect of the Call — its not being based on my sense of my competence — seems to be an important distinction for me.
Gary: And from that surrendered place comes Love. Pat: And Love is the force of healing. That is interesting to me – as you experience that surrendered place it is Love. When I experience that surrendered place it is Joy. The suchness. It’s not that Love is better than or worse than Joy. We are not what we think we are. Gary: We are not competent or incompetent – we are at a different plane.
Then as the work of Helpership unfolds, it is important for me to stay in a place of Humility and Awe rather than having my ego hook onto pride. Pat: You and Einstein connect with a sense of awe in the unfolding of the Cosmos.
Pat: This morning coffee time is like Authentic Movement for me – feeling how it is in my body. Look how Life configures – every detail fitting each of our plans. Two weeks ago was the Retreat with Einstein for you and Georgia O’Keefe for me, and now this experience at Sevenoaks. And all of this leads into our couple’s work with Sage and Anthony in July.
Gary: Yes, the next higher level is the US piece. And again it is a time of further surrender – letting go of what we “think” is “working so well” between us in order to get to the experience of Union beyond what our egoic minds know is possible – that’s the scary piece, the letting go of the familiar and comfortable to get to the space beyond, the space of true Love and Joy. Pat: And these experiences we have had leading up to our intensive need to be remembered to help free us up for more. Gary: Yes. Faith is an organic experiential process, not a declaration of a belief we hope is “right.” Even if what we say we believe does turn out to be right it won’t strengthen us unless we have experienced its truth. Experiencing the Truth is what builds Faith.
There was also a strong piece in this last work scene regarding Jesus Christ for me. It was about feeling the presence of Jesus Christ rather than falling back on a “correct” belief system about Jesus Christ. After my experience in this work scene I now more deeply relate to the description of a relationship with Jesus Christ expressed in Pathwork Lecture 63 Questions and Answers: “The truth of Jesus Christ will eventually be part of the inner experience for all people who develop their souls.” (click to open) So this inner experience of a relationship with Jesus Christ within my soul, too, was a significant blessing from the weekend. It is humbling, even exhausting, to take this all in.
Blessings on your journey. With love, Gary
PS If you have read this and are so moved, I ask for you prayers for the strength, courage, and willingness to take this Call to Helpership to the next step. Thank you.