We all go through certain tough seasons in life, and such has been my lot, these past few weeks. It can become hard to relate or understand why all the bitter lemons keep coming your way, harder even to expect anyone to understand, but such is the resilience of the human machine, that whatever we
We all go through certain tough seasons in life, and such has been my lot, these past few weeks. It can become hard to relate or understand why all the bitter lemons keep coming your way, harder even to expect anyone to understand, but such is the resilience of the human machine, that whatever we put our mind and effort to do, we often achieve or overcome. The fire of temptations often cools down and the ashes settle, or are washed away by the torrents of life, as time heals. Aha!
I have found that along the journey of life, talking about the tough stuff or even writing it down is quite therapeutic. Some doctors say it lessens the effects of depression. Sharing also may help someone somewhere and that fulfills the essence of why we are social beings – knowing we are not alone and that our suffering is not in isolation – it has been experienced by others alongside or before us. Sometimes I can be brutally candid, I must say, and thanks to Mr. Gitau for editing me. But my point in being candid is this: healing begins when we stand in our own truths, own and acknowledge our life experiences (good or bad) in love, unconditionally, and embrace them as a necessary part of growth and strength. Once we accept without fear or shame, that whatever we are going through at any one time was meant to be, then we not only help ourselves, but we also do help others. That light that we shine, as it liberates us, also liberates those around us. Someone once told me that the act of love expressed by just one person, permeates the atmosphere and the people living around this person within an area of about 2 sq. miles, will feel loved and also exhibit love – and so do other energies. We are beings of light and every action and feeling is an energy that permeates our surroundings. Can you just imagine if we all loved unconditionally – what that ripple effect could do?
Just like the ripple effect of love mentioned above, Marrianne Williamson in her book: “A Return to Love; Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles”, very well captures the liberation ripple effect when she says, and I quote the famous words:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Liberation comes in different forms for each of us, and it can mean different things at different times, because life keeps evolving, and nothing remains constant. It may come in small bits or small steps, through certain experiences or in large endeavors or achievements. It may come by meeting someone or people who shine their light for you to see or through someone who is in so much darkness, that your light shines bright for them to see, and as they see, you also get more illuminated.
That brings me to a certain incident recently, while at lunch with the clients we take care of. I work with mentally challenged individuals, and our goal is to try to make their lives as normal as possible by helping them integrate into the community. One way of doing this is accompanying them to places where everyone else goes, like restaurants and malls, etc. When I am going through a difficult situation, one thing that truly helps me is to try and look for something I can thank God for, count my blessings. It is hard to work with these people without realizing how blessed one is. That is the main reason why I whole heartedly serve and associate with them, no matter where it may be.
We were a group of about ten – 5 people in wheelchairs and one caregiver with each of the clients. As we settled down and made room for the wheelchairs, there came a company of 3 men that occupied the table next to ours. Sometimes there is so much hostility towards people with disabilities, it is hard to believe. But, I have also realized that the hostility is more when people do not have anyone close to them with a disability. It is a different experience, a different story, whenever I have met people who have relatives or friends who have disabilities. One of these 3 men sitting across from us was amazed or disgusted or whatever, that his eyes were glued to our table, staring. You expect to see many things when you keep looking at sick people, so he saw something he didn’t like because one of the clients had a bad cough, and his reflexes are not very good, so the obvious happened. I didn’t see him, but my colleague said that he grimaced, and promptly left his table, unable to continue eating his chicken. My colleague narrated to me later how this man waited for her by the exit, to tell her that we should not take these people out to eating places, because they offend the ‘normal’ people. Oh well, I say the Universe knows how to take care of its children, because had this child of the Universe said those words to me, there was no way of knowing what I would have said to him at that moment, although my position on this changed later.
There, right then, when I heard this narration by my colleague, my problems dwindled and vanished completely. I knew how blessed I was, that I have this profound understanding that it is not anything I have done to merit my good health, neither is it anything that any of our clients did to find themselves where they are physically. This young man reminded me that even though we may be walking, talking, eating, driving the best cars or living a lavish life, it doesn’t mean that we appreciate the goodness and blessings of life. He could have been strong and ‘mighty bad’ one moment, but there was no assurance that he could not be in a wheelchair himself, the next moment. I truly wondered why he had not moved away to a more comfortable position where he would not be offended by us. I am aware different people have different views on this, but this is my version of how I see things. We are all entitled to our opinions, so it is OK.
Our clients could, may be, have wanted to move away, but they could not. Can you imagine for a second being in a position where you know someone truly doesn’t like you, you seriously want to get away from them, even if it is just for a second, but you cannot do that physically? Can you imagine how frustrating that is? Sometimes we might think that we have it made, but nothing could be further from the truth. This young man couldn’t, for example, know that the young man who offended him because of coughing, is a cancer survivor, and taking him out is always a big celebration. But much as we talk of these people being disabled, I have realized that they are endowed with so much peace, joy, love and they are so accommodating and nonjudgmental.
We sometimes think that they are disadvantaged, but since our clients are non-verbal, how do we know that they don’t pity us? I made light of it with my colleague the other day when I said: “Maybe we keep thinking these people are disadvantaged, but how do we know that they don’t look at us as the ones who are disadvantaged?” I mean, we do everything for them; we come to work sometimes so stressed out – they rarely get stressed like we do; we have to work long hours – they don’t; the money is usually not enough – their upkeep is assured; our kids are going through stuff so we go through that stuff with them – most of them don’t have kids; we have challenges in our marriages – they are not married; if we don’t have spouses, we are still miserable – if they have friends they’re over the moon with them. In short all our negative feelings trickle down to them. How do we know that they don’t pray to God: “Lord please help this your child today to be calm and kind as she takes care of me, because I can see she is going through a rough time?” We laughed at this, but how do we seriously know it doesn’t happen that way?
So, as ‘massive’ as I had considered my problem, that young man had managed to change all that into a victory for me. I cannot explain how, but I had this enlightened moment that just wiped away my problem. I decided to take those tangy, discouraging lemons in my yard, and make the sweetest lemonade with some extra sugar in it. Sad I didn’t meet that young man, I would have shared some of it. What do I have to worry about, when God knows what is sent my way is not meant to finish but strengthen me? Am sitting down with that glass of lemonade and when it becomes half full, I will keep replenishing it with some extra sugar of love, peace, patience and gratefulness.
I am grateful to be alive, stronger through my temptations, happy that am able to share, pray that someone gets encouraged.
I am striving to be happy, it is still a beautiful world.
BY SUSAN W KIONGO
KENYAN PARENTS IN USA
DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL CENTRAL ORGANIZATION FOR DIASPORA UNITY(CODU)1 comment