Embodied Intimacy, Transformative Inquiry, Creative Emergence

Love’s Fierce Initiation~Part Two

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 3 comments

Love’s Fierce Initiation~Part Two

Widening the Circle of Our Courageous Love

An amazing connection unfolded for me today. I spent the morning grieving for the people who died in Pittsburgh on Saturday, in the mass shooting. Then I posted this on Facebook:

“I am not going to shut down, numb out, dissociate, tell myself that I don’t have the time to mourn this tragedy, and pay attention to what it represents.

I went online this morning and looked at the photos and read the bios of each one of the eleven people that died by shooting in Squirrel Hill, a Jewish community that was full of warmth, goodness and light. As I read about each one and looked at their photos, I could feel that these are my people. They belong to me. They are not really strangers at all.

I wept a lot. Maybe I’ll need to weep some more.”

People have told me they feel they will drown in their grief if they really feel it. I know the feeling well. That’s why what happened next was like the answer to a prayer.

A short while later, a woman named Julie, whom I do not know, replied to me with these words:

“I read the stories of each victim of hate as well…actually, Shayla, it was as if they were begging me to get to KNOW them…not to look at a name…an age…a candle…and as I read about Cecil and David, Rose, Richard, Joyce, Jerry, Bernice and Sylvan, Daniel, Melvin and Irving I became acquainted with their humanity. We should chant their names until we feel them on a cellular level.”

When I received this message from Julie, something awakened in me. It was a radical awareness of the one great heart that holds us all, that cannot be destroyed by violence, that is struggling to emerge into our public and private lives right now. I could feel precisely the same impulse of love moving through Julie, and it lifted me up, it gave me strength, it spoke to my body and my heart that we are never as separate as it might appear. I didn’t feel alone, with my hand just barely waving, in an ocean of grief. I felt a bottom, a ground, something that filled me with courageous love.

These are fierce times, and the initiation we are passing through is not gentle. We are being called to develop new capacities, to embrace parts of ourselves we have pushed away, to find a voice that is unafraid to stand up and speak out. And we truly being called to widen the circle of our care, to find out what it is to be a global citizen. Until there are no strangers left.

The first piece I have written about Love’s Fierce Initiation is here: That Abrupt Waking

with love,


Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash



Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Leo Sofer

    This is really beautiful Shayla. Thank you. You write about your inner experiences in a way that is very touching, and helps me get closer to those capacities in myself, to love, to know, to bear witness to the world as it is.

  2. Jeffrey

    I like this intention Shayla. To me, it asks me to look at international news and tragedy and take it in to the core of who I am. Rather than just seeing the bad news, the violence, to make a practice of taking an amount of it to my heart. This feels like a practice of humility for the world.

  3. Colleen Carpenter

    This is so alive for me right now as I sit in silent retreat grieving. Initiating ceremony, experiencing a journey, feeling deeply, letting all the pain surface and acknowledge loss. Not just my own but the pain and losses that exist in our shared space of humanness, as they are one. No one to take away any pain, just me acknowledging it, bearing witness to it’s existence. Even acknowledging the pain that it has not be validated in my self ,by myself or others. So I sit as a radical act to let the pain exist. It is not what we have been taught to do, we have been taught to try and make things better. To be talked out of pain. To be able to say ” I am in pain, I am hurting” and for that to be acknowledged can make things better ,even though they can’t be made right. Thank you Shayla, I sit with you in this radical act of shared pain.

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