Re-Birthing in a Time of Aging

“I really appreciate you, not what you DO, but YOU.” These words, spoken yesterday by a dear friend who is close to death, reverberated in my heart and brought light, life, joy and warmth, feelings that I could take in without pride and arrogance. Why not pride and arrogance? Because my ego has so little to take credit for outside the sphere of Doing, Doing, Doing, and her reflection had nothing to do with this doing responsibility of my ego. Like the acorn growing into the oak through an organic, natural, and yet Divine process, my growing into who I am, even now as I come to the end of my 70th year, is primarily a process of transcending my ego and allowing to emerge what is beyond separateness, a manifestation of the Grand Oneness, of my Divine Kernel.

Such is the nature of my life these days, and it is mostly new experience. Last week was rich with such experiences as I participated for four days in the Pathwork International Conference at Sevenoaks Retreat Center – a gathering of over 70 people from a dozen countries around the world.

A few examples…

I was rooming at a nearby motel with a Sevenoaks Pathwork colleague of mine. I am an early riser and one morning I quietly left the motel for Sevenoaks around 4:30. But five minutes away from the motel I suddenly remembered I had not taken my meds, so I turned around and went back to the motel. Here I found my colleague awake, sitting up in bed, and a bit unsettled by a decision he was contemplating. We chatted for 30 minutes or so. My role was simply connecting, reflecting, pondering with him the motivations involved in his decision, and so on. No big deal, yet he later thanked me for being so present to him in this process. Our conversation had given him clarity. Again, no ego involvement on my part. I had no recommendations or suggestions to make to him, just simple listening, pondering, and reflecting. And it all came about by my having forgotten to take my meds! Pure synchronicity. My ego’s job: “Going with the flow” and “Deep Listening.”

Later that day I was leading a panel discussion for the Conference on the topic of new ways to teach Pathwork. I was very aware that I had no real idea what these “new ways” might be, and I had not discussed what we would cover with the two panelists that would present their experiences. One panelist was from Brazil and speaks Portuguese as her primary language, and the other from Mexico, speaking Spanish. So while both spoke English as well, the differences in primary language and cultures impacts the flow of the discussion.

Thirty folks turned up for the panel discussion – some speaking only Portuguese and others, from Belgium, speaking only French – so we had two translators and this also challenged the flow of conversation. There I sat, trusting that I would be guided in how to kick off and facilitate this meeting. An idea spontaneously arose in me as the gathering was about to begin. After a brief attunement, I asked each person to remember who and what their greatest Pathwork teachers have been in their years of Pathwork. Perhaps if they got in touch with who and what worked for them in their own Pathwork learning, what would work in teaching others might emerge.

I felt at ease throughout the conversations that ensued. Afterwards one of the other leaders from our Sevenoaks community commented on how well this all went, actually surprisingly well – how I had held the space and created safety for everyone. Several had based their comments on what I had suggested: their own best teachers. Again I felt enlivened by this experience. And again no room for pride and arrogance, because whatever happened simply arose through the group and my intuition on how to begin.  I just had the sense to get out of the way and pay attention to where Spirit seemed to be leading us.

The third example dealt with my sense of not belonging with the other 70 leaders in this international conference. I was the photographer for the Conference – taking nearly 500 photos throughout. I was the audio person, responsible for recording all of the sessions, sometimes under challenging circumstances (combination of loud drumming, music, and shouting along side soft-spoken speakers and quiet meditation times; or recording two sessions going on simultaneously in two different buildings).

In this “doing, doing, doing” mode of “audio man” and “photographer” I saw myself withdrawing from the group and not connecting or belonging. I was a witness and observer, not a co-participant. This was exacerbated when groups of leaders met in small conversations over meals and I simply felt out of place. I preferred eating alone – it was too painful to sit with others in silence while they talked away. Clearly I was not one of their number. I was a duck out of water, the introvert, not the extrovert, and was eager to get back to my self-appointed tasks of taking pictures and recording. Of course one-to-one conversations over lunch and elsewhere were great and frequent, and here the “belonging” was automatic, as with my roommate and his 5:00 AM need for conversation.

Pat had pointed out several weeks ago when she and I were at a Pathwork function involving our Sevenoak leaders that I seemed not to belong to the leadership group and that I did not seem to be enjoying my time with these leaders. This was in contrast to my positive and dynamic energy for Pathwork when she and I are alone talking for hours about matters spiritual. It struck her as odd that I would not really fit in with these other Pathwork leaders when I am so inspired by Pathwork.

At one of the Conference sessions there was a recognition ritual for Sevenoaks leaders. Of course I was included, being the treasurer, chairman of the finance committee, chairman of the Pathwork Council that runs our school, and a member of both the Board and the Executive Committee. But after this recognition ritual one of the leaders from Mexico whom I had gotten to know during the conference commented how it didn’t seem to her that I was comfortable in these leadership roles, as if I was serving in ways that were outside my element and with people who were quite different from me in personality and disposition. In reflection her comments were helpful – here from the outside someone, as Pat had done several weeks ago, saw the “oddness” of my role in leadership.

But this was not the end. I accepted that I did not “belong” with these other leaders. Once this was accepted and was no big deal to me it seemed, another movement happened almost immediately. While I do not belong on a personality level I realized that I very much belong on a deeper level, the level beyond personality, perhaps tapping into the Oneness of All that Is. Wow! Is this possible?

The conversation yesterday described at the beginning of this writing ended with my sharing my experience of letting go of not belonging at the personality level only to find that I very much belong at a deeper level. “Oh I so get that, Gary. As I say my ‘Goodbyes’ to my friends I am sensing my connection from a very deep place. Some of these friends’ personalities do not fit me, even trigger me sometimes, but beneath this personality level there is a profound sense of belonging coming from this Oneness. I wish for you, my friend, that you continue to grow in this ever deepening sense of Holy Belonging.” How wise were her words. How loving. How beautiful.

So in many ways as I come to the end of my 70th year I am just beginning a new era of personal and spiritual growth. From here, though I could die tomorrow, I do not feel “old” but rather in a process of rebirth.  And maybe death will simply be a continuation of this rebirthing process. Perhaps. We’ll see. In any case the feeling is one of profound Peace, Joy and Gratitude. Hallelujah!

Shared in love, Gary