Today I am cleaning the threads.
The whole notion of cleaning the threads is based on the idea that underneath the world of senses, the one that we imagine we live in there is ‘the web that weaves’. What it weaves remains nameless in that I have never attempted to define what it is, this web of energy, of story, of the radical interconnectedness of all things. It is movement and being, it is both what is and what is potential.
The practice I think of as cleaning the threads is about release, about travelling back along the time line, untangling the twist it put on me that I have lived these stories and they have shaped me. The more clogged up we are with the stories we carry, the dirtier the threads. The dirtier the threads the harder it is for fresh energy to flow in our lives, the more likely it is that we will recreate the familiar, even if it makes us miserable.
So first, find the start of a thread. A thread is something that’s going on now, an attitude, an issue, like ‘Why do I have such difficulty trusting?’ Following this thread, I see all that I have missed for lack of trust. I forgive. I forgive myself for being the shape I am. I forgive those who betrayed my trust, who let me down. I forgive all those who behaved the way they did for reasons I do not know, because of experiences that shaped them that I have never been told. Then I forgive the people who did the things they did that resulted in this person becoming someone capable of acting as they did and all the threads of pain that weave and weave again between us humans who mean no harm but blunder around blindly, acting out of pain and causing more pain in the process.
Forgiveness as I work with forgiveness does not mean that what has happened is ‘fine by me’. I know that there are those like Richard Tipping who wrote ‘Radical Forgiveness’ who argue that all is perfect in a perfect world and that when we forgive in their terms we recognise that there is nothing to forgive. I have spent too many hours in my life listening to people tell me of the things big people do to little people to go there. I think of the secrets people have shared with me and no, I do not think it is well in this world that such things happen.
Forgiving myself for the ways in which I have shut down, chosen to be a shadow of who I know I am called to be, I want the threads to be clean so I can dance along them, welcoming the fullness of life with all its joys and sorrows. Depression is the refusal to feel because what is there to feel is so sore, so difficult and dark and sad.
In ‘The Goodwill Patterns’ I define forgiveness as follows…
‘Forgiveness is the cancellation of all the conditions in your mind that are preventing the flow of love, joy and vitality through you, independently of the behaviour of yourself, others or of any circumstances. It is a decision not to punish yourself, not to continue to diminish your overflowing love, joy or freedom because of the real or imagined wrongs done by yourself, or others, or because of outer circumstances. Forgiveness is an act of loving will – of mental and spiritual will. It cannot and does not take place on the emotional level, the level on which most problems arise.’
I travel back along the time line. I let memories arise and go on forgiving as one story melts and another arises. I forgive my son’s father for abandoning me when I was pregnant. I forgive myself for being so freaked out by discovering I was pregnant that I contributed to making it a situation he wanted to run away from. I forgive all the people who supported me to have my son adopted, failing to understand that what I actually needed was someone to say ‘You are not alone. You are not the only person who wants your child to live. You are not the only person who loves this little being in your belly.’ I forgive myself and I forgive everyone else. I forgive. I forgive. I forgive. I want to live in love and joy and freedom and no-one else can do this for me. I want to release the story. I want to become someone other than this me ‘that forever grieves with no hope of ever ceasing’. The trick is to accept the feeling and let the story go. Let the cry in my heart rise up and join the mothers’ lament, a keening chorus, the song of mothers who have lost their sons. I am not alone. I am not alone. When we suffer the illusion of separation wraps itself close around us, a dark grey cloak that chokes the voice out of us. In the belief that no-one would want to know of such pain, we fail to realise that ‘this knowing dwells in our hearts for all we seek to escape it’. That which feeds our sense of isolation is an experience intrinsic to the human condition. So is seeking to avoid the truth of ‘how it is to be here now, alive, on the planet, hurting’.
‘Hold out the pain and we hold out the joy too.’ (Joanna Macy) Feel this truth in your heart and know that in grief and sadness and pain we are at one with everyone else who knows this, has felt the searing pain of walking the road of hot stones just as you do.
Today I am cleaning the threads because hard and all as it may be to feel this, I know, I know because I have done this over and over again in order to keep living in this world, that the way back to life is in letting be, in forgiving. I forgive myself for being the shape I am. I forgive myself for not knowing what to do. I forgive myself for my failure to trust. I forgive myself for all the ways in which I still do not trust.
Cleaning the threads is emotional work and you know it is working when the shift happens, something loosens, frees up, releases, relaxes inside us. It’s possible to get stuck in ‘recylcing’ when instead of releasing the story whatever it is and allowing ourselves to experience the feelings, we retell ourselves our story, driving the knife in deeper with every telling.
Forgiveness is everything. Forgiveness does not make what happened a good thing to have happened but when I clean the threads, I find the other side of forgiveness, freer, looser, released, relaxed. I can see how much I have gained, how rich my life has been, all those amazing teachers, mentors, guides, all the skills I’ve gained, practices I have followed, how well I have mastered tools of self-management. All the kindness and care, love and understanding others have shown me along the road. I have needed support and I have had it. And all those amazing people who let me share a stretch of their road with them, who could see, simply because it is true, that I know this territory and can help them find their way through.
With forgiveness comes acceptance. I am no longer, as Caroline Myss puts it ‘financing the past’. I am lighter, more available to the present, to enjoying life. We all have broken hearts in different names. It is not what happens that is the problem, it is the meaning we ascribe to it, the twist we put on ourselves as a consequence. It is the conclusions we come to about ourselves, others and the nature of the world that do the damage, that lead us to turn away from the flow, to choose the half-life of depression as an alternative to opening up, letting be and forgiving ourselves and others for unskilful behaviour, for the things done that would be better undone, the things undone we would have been wiser to do.
May we dwell in the heart.
May we be free from suffering.
May we be healed.
May we be at peace.