This past year has held some life-changing moments for me. It feels as though a major chapter in my soul’s journey has now ended, and I am ready for the next. And this readiness has come from letting go of a significant teacher of mine.
I realized that in my loyalty to this great teacher, I was overlooking the signs that it was time to let this teacher go. Just like two best friends who eventually start walking different paths, I have needed to let go of this relationship for some time. I had been holding on, allowing myself to continue to revel in the nurturing that was once there, but is no longer.
This teacher was my pain. Pain left over from tumultuous times in my past – like any of us have experienced – with events that have shaped me, disappointed me, hurt me and surprised me. Pain yearning for love. Pain that brought incredible grief. And, pain that also brought deep gratitude.
I have been loyal to this pain for years. She has been a familiar companion, and a comforting presence in a such a beautiful and sorrowful way.
My pain motivated me to become something meaningful when she kept hidden, and broke me open to know surrender when she decided to surface. She taught me how to be okay with hurt, how to feel deep empathy, for others, and later myself.
She gifted me with wisdom; with an understanding of human suffering. She gifted me insight into the yearnings that burrow deep into the hearts of all my fellow spirits traveling this earth in human form. She gave me courage to feel the sorrows of the world, surrendering in tears to both grief and joy at our oneness.
It was in her presence that I felt connected with my larger global community. This was my familiar playground. It was a terrain that I knew, and know, so intimately. I am thankful for her.
It has been a long process of letting go. I was loyal because of all the magnificent lessons that she showed me. And in my loyalty I became temporarily short-sighted. I was accustomed to opening up to her presence. Being with my grief. Allowing her to wash over me and bring new insights, old patterns to reflect on, and even a sense of comfort.
Yet, in the solace of my pain I wasn’t leaving room for transformation – for the grief to shift and take a different shape – a shape that wanted wings and to fly from the cage of my ribs it had for so long felt at home in.
Instead I had started holding on - holding on to a story that no longer defined me; that was no longer beneficial to my growth.
But, eventually I realized that in letting my teacher go, I wouldn’t need to forget the profound learning and gifts that she has given me. In fact, when I finally asked her what she wanted, without skipping a beat, she whispered “let me go – I yearn for movement and space and transformation. I yearn for peace”.
My teacher and I both yearned for the same thing. We both needed to release each other.
So I wrapped her in a rose-colored blanket of love, kindness and gratitude. I gave her some beautiful golden wings. I said farewell to my pain, and watched as she took flight from her well-worn nest amongst my ribs.
And my pain was transformed in that moment. She became possibility. She became space – a space to move in new ways.
And she left a final departing gift - forgiveness. The most significant gift that I ever received from my pain was when I let her go. Forgiveness. And with this, even more room for movement, compassion, love, and gratitude.
And of course new teachers in the names of pain and grief will still visit me. This time I will not only be open to their arrival but I will also be open to their departure; their transformation. I will say good bye to the teachers when it is time, and I will keep the teachings and gifts that I receive from them.
Shauna Janz, MA is a teacher, mentor, and facilitator at the crossroads of grief, trauma, ritual and ancestral healing. She is the founder of Sacred Grief offering immersive online programs for folks interested in deepening their skills in these areas.
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