Back on 4 September at 04.35 we had a 7.1 earthquake here in Christchurch, New Zealand. Media reports tended to focus on the initial rupture and the rescue attempts that followed. Because of the timing of the quake there was no apparent loss of life. Lucky for a quake of this magnitude. Reports focused on serious injury and damage. Buildings damaged irrevocably were demolished in the aftermath. The effects though have been experienced in other ways. The aftershocks have engendered the fears suffered in the initial rupture and have come back to haunt some of us.
Initially there was an interest in the liquefaction caused by the quake. International scholars flew into Christchurch to experience this firsthand. It seemed as if this was the very earth bleeding once the rupture opened wounds on the surface.
This sense brings us to the possibility of seeing the earthquake as an opportunity to re-experience a sacredness in some way. Certainly the wounds are visible in the cracks in the earth, the crumbling of walls, the caving-in of ceilings. If we imagine those cracks, that crumbling, that caving-in as occuring within our psyches what might emerge as we begin to rebuild ourselves? Are there elements of ourselves that may have been neglected as our lives have evolved? Can we imagine incorporating these elements as we begin to rebuild? Doing this innerwork develops contact with our deeper selves as long as we keep in mind that once this is done we need to turn our attention outward to the wider community.
The quake opens a path to reconnection with each other. Checking on their well-being as each aftershock hits. Accommodating and feeding those displaced by the quake. This turning outward extends a hand to life – that whatever or whoever you give a helping hand to is returning that gift. You see in their eyes the very emotion that is going on inside of you. The giving is in the receiving as the receiving is in the giving.
If the Sacred Sorrow of the Sacred Wound opens us to this opportunity to fully see ourselves in another’s pain then it also allows us to fully experience a Sacred Care. A care that goes beyond even our love for one another and reaches into a space where we have a love for the places we live, homes, environments, fully connected to all those things that involve us as earth-bound creatures.
It was a couple of weeks prior to the earthquake that I’d set the intention for these posts and the immediate experience I was rewarded with was a beautiful day. I took my time driving to work stopping to take photos when they caught my eye. It seemed odd to have all this beauty arrayed as further consideration of the Sacred Wound. At the same time I received another gift although at first it didn’t seem so.
Ambivalence may not seem to be great gift and its affect on my disposition was quite strong. Ambivalence is defined as the simultaneous experiencing of opposite emotions. The word itself is a combination of ‘ambi’ meaning both and ‘valence’ which is associated with the charge a particular ion will hold while combined with another in a molecule. The one cancels the other leaving the observer with the impression that either the molecule or the person has a neutral demeanour. I’m guessing that seeing this neutrality can be frustrating to someone wishing to have attention from this other.
While reading Thomas Moore’s Writing in the Sand I came across his discussion of self-possession in his chapter on Facing the Demon. He describes Jesus as a self-possessed person having the attributes of ‘allowing life to flow through him’, a ‘conduit for the uncertainties that life offers’, ‘not fighting the life that wants to be in you’ and an ‘even temper’ and ‘cool demeamour’. The latter two could be confused and sensed as ambivalence.
Later I was told that when considered in the light of the enneagram ambivalence can be thought of as an almost normal state of being. That somehow took the curse off it. And it had my mind ticking over. According to Don Richard Riso in his Understanding the Ennegram, point five or personality type
five, which he describes as The Thinker, is ambivalently identified with both parents. If this sense of ambivalence has relevance to the sacred wound maybe the different points of the ennegram can hint at and perhaps tell us more about our sacred wounds. Worth exploring in my next post!