Every person is born with a gift; a gift of wisdom. This precious gift is often unseen by the individual personality. When I’m invited to mentor someone, I always listen deeply to what they’re looking for. What they’re looking for wears many disguises: how to be a better coach, parent, spouse, person.
Underneath the disguises, that camouflages our true nature, our inherent wisdom resides. In order to help release this gift, I continue to learn not to be taken in by the disguise, or in other words, what their stated needs are. I “know” that basically, everyone is looking for their essential Self, whether they realize it or not.
I certainly didn’t think I was looking for anything, when I was residing in depression as a young woman. I thought depression was normal. I thought my depression was a result of my circumstances. As a child, I often felt “not seen” by my parents, who were busy trying to survive the depression, and take care of their family. In their reality, they didn’t have time to cuddle or to show affection. They did the best they could, given this era was just after the great depression and WW ll. They showed their love by making sure their children had enough to eat, went to school, did the chores, and so on. This was life. Showing affection wasn’t done in my family.
When I began to “listen” to Syd, after my initial strong resistance, I started to feel my true nature, without really recognizing what this lovely feeling was. It just was. Syd pointed out that the lovely feeling of well-being was my true Self; I was quite amazed at this statement. I slipped in and out of believing this to be true.
Until one day, I connected the dots, and I realized there was definitely something to what Syd was saying. I realized that when I had my first insight, “thought creates feeling,” the strong sense of worthiness I had experienced during that insight was my true being. I was “seeing” beyond my camouflage. I was “seeing” beyond what I felt I did wrong to “seeing” what I did right. What I did right was realize my true nature. Full stop.
All Syd did to assist my spiritual evolution was to “listen deeply.” And sometimes he would point to a spiritual fact, as he did in clarifying that the lovely feeling was my true Self. Often, the time I spent with him was in silence, simply enjoying our cup of tea, or lunch at a restaurant patio, overlooking the ocean, or perhaps sitting in his beautiful yard, enjoying nature.
It was in the silence that I heard something within myself. Deep silence feels like the essence of life; enriching, nourishing, enlightening. Listening in silence is necessary to hear the soul, ours and others who come to us looking for help.
Not too long ago, a pastor coming to the island to work with me for a four-day mentorship. When he arrived, he looked absolutely exhausted, drained to the core. We spent the first two days in the cozy cottage I had rented for our mentoring conversations. I was feeling my way with the pastor, Benjamin, as I could see that he was restless and a bit uneasy with me. He had a lot of questions about how to go deeper, how to listen more to his congregation, how to lessen his stress, how to, how to, how to . . . I knew in order for Ben to hear anything of value, beyond his intellect, beyond the camouflage of his busy mind, it was important for him to relax and get comfortable.
To encourage his relaxation, I took him on a ride around the island, and while driving, I clicked the play button to listen to an early audio tape of Syd’s. His calm voice helped settle Ben, and I saw him sink deeper into the car seat beside me.
We carried on our tour in silence, except for the gentle Scottish brogue of Syd’s voice. Then I parked at Ruckle Park, at a spot overlooking the ocean, turned off the motor, and the tape. We sat in stillness for a few minutes. After about five minutes, I looked over at Ben, and saw him staring out to sea. The feeling was comfortable, so I let the silence ride. It was beautiful.
After about fifteen minutes, Ben began to shift his body, so I suggested a cup of tea at a nearby café. He readily agreed and off we went for our cuppa. As we were driving there, Ben said, “I loved the quiet, Elsie. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt peace. I’ve been so concerned for many in my congregation. As you know, my parish is in a poor area of Detroit, and there is so much tragedy and trauma that takes place daily. So many young people are dying. I get lost in my sorrow and I don’t know how to keep helping.”
I shared with Ben some of my stories of working in the inner cities in many parts of America, and let him know that when we see all those we work with as innately mentally healthy rather than dysfunctional, that in and of itself, is enormously helpful. Seeing the true nature in everyone, rather than the tragedy or trauma, gives people hope. It helps them “see” past their camouflage to their soul.”
Ben was quietly taking this in and his face reflected his peace and a depth of understanding that hadn’t been there before. As I was about to drop him off at his lodgings, I suggested he take the next morning to be on his own, to absorb what he’d learned today.
“Oh no,” Ben quickly responded. “I’d like to get together with you again tomorrow and experience that stillness again. That was so powerful.”
“Ben, that stillness came from within you, not me. That stillness is your true nature, giving you succour and peace. It’s important that you “see” that; otherwise you become dependent upon someone else for your well-being.”
Ben was dubious; I remained firm, and said I’d pick him up at noon. The next day, I arrived to pick Ben up. I could see that his face wasn’t as restful as the previous afternoon. I wasn’t sure what to do; I asked him to talk to me, if he felt like it, or we could head to the cottage in quiet. He said, “I’d like the quiet.”
And that’s how we spent much of the remaining time, in stillness, walking in the woods, enjoying nature, and appreciating each others company. When Ben left after the fourth day, he was much more at peace. I know he was deeply touched, that he was beginning to see beyond the camouflage of his personal thinking. I respected that, ultimately, it was his journey, and the pace of learning was up to him.
We embraced when I took him to the float plane to start his journey to Vancouver, and then back home to Detroit. I was very moved by Ben’s deep commitment to his parishioners, and trusted that he would continue to rest more of the time in his true nature. Knowing how much he loved the quiet, I knew he would not easily forget the power of a quiet mind.