Times of brokenness in our lives can feel like living through an earthquake.
Everything's been shaken so hard that it's been knocked loose from its foundations and left in rubble all around us. That's surely enough trauma for anyone to deal with, but the rubble is seldom the only challenge we face.
In the physical world, it's possible for an earthquake to open fissures in the earth that allow water from aquifers deep underground to come bubbling wildly up to the surface.
When that happens, those on the surface not only have the rubble left behind by the earthquake to deal with, but now they also have to deal with this sudden, unexpected flow of water causing flooding and destabilizing the foundations of buildings.
Our natural tendency is to try to plug up the openings in the earth through which these subterranean water fountains flow, but the water is not so easily controlled. Capping one fissure will only force new ones to open up all around it so the water still has somewhere to go.
Our other tendency is to ignore the flow of water in the hopes that the source of the water would soon run dry and evaporate so we can avoid the mess and hassle of dealing with it. When the water doesn't stop, however, this approach creates an even greater mess to deal with in short order.
What if we decided to treat this rushing upflow of water as a gift to be embraced instead, despite the messy, challenging nature of the way it appeared?
What if we chose to find life-giving ways to make use of the water instead of suppressing or ignoring it?
We could create systems to catch the water cleanly and bottle it to share with others. We could develop fabulous water gardens that provide beauty and a peaceful oasis for all around. We could channel the water into irrigation systems to grow bountiful crops of delicious produce.
Taking this last approach causes just as much disruption and chaos along the way as either of the first two approaches, but by choosing to embrace the challenge as a gift, it would be possible to transform the situation in positive ways.
My experience with transformation has been very much like this upwelling of subterranean water in the wake of an earthquake.
When things happen in our lives that cause earthquakes deep inside us, the resulting cracks in our carefully constructed lives allow parts of ourselves that we've walled off in our subconscious, our shadow, our repressed emotional memories to come welling up to the surface.
This sudden surfacing of our own subterranean flow of emotions and energy is damaging and messy as it brings up old wounds to be dealt with and exposes our shadow sides for us to face more clearly. It feels chaotic and painful and destructive as it rearranges the life we have known.
It's easy to see this flow as something that we should try to put a stop to by trying to dam up the cracks or something we should try to ignore to do our best to continue life as usual.
Neither approach works any better in these cases than it would in our hypothetical physical example. Damming up the cracks just forces the transformational flow to appear somewhere else in our lives, and ignoring the flow leaves us drowning in unattended damage created by the unchanneled flow.
Treating this flow of transformational energy as the gift it is—albeit often an unwanted gift, at least initially—allows us to proactively recreate our lives in ways that are life-giving for ourselves and for those that share our lives.
When we embrace that flow and allow it to wash away the debris that has encrusted our true selves, we can rediscover who we are and who we are meant to be, and this is ultimately freeing.
Actively embracing the transformation flowing up through the cracks in our lives can be a source of kintsugi gold as we heal and move forward from whatever earthquake has rocked our world.
We have no control over these earthquakes or the water that flows up from the depth in their wake. We do, however, always have a choice about how we respond to these.
Have you ever experienced this uncontrollable upwelling of transformation in your life?
If so, how did you choose to respond to it? What responses worked best for you?
As you look back on times like these in your past, can you see the gifts that the water of transformation brought (even if the path that brought you there was challenging and painful)?
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