On Monday, October 14th, art therapist Marcy Purdy was the guest speaker for our Friends After Diagnosis meeting. She introduced us to the idea of expressing our soul stories, in the form of SoulCollages, by showing us some of her personal collage work. This is deeply intimate and personal. It can only be done if the space we’re in feels safe, and the people around us accept us as we are: our quirky, flawed, real, passionate, beautiful, courageous selves. Friends After Diagnosis a safe place to be open and honest.
Marcy and I had a conversation before the meeting started, and we both acknowledged the beauty of the soul stories represented by each person in the room. We talked about how our soul stories evolve as life changes. The challenges of today become the wisdom of tomorrow. We were experiencing this invitation from the poet and theologian Rumi: “Look carefully around you and recognize the luminosity of souls. Sit beside those who draw you to that.” And that is what we did.
Our tables were covered with a variety of magazine pictures, and Marcy invited each of us to select a few that represented who we are right now. This was having fun with our deeply personal selves. Then we had the pleasure of sharing a few of our selections with the group, and our sharing became an honoring of wherever we were in our evolutionary process. The few words each person shared were a gift to everyone because we were being honest about our struggles as well as our strengths.
Lin wrote down the key words from each person and, when all had shared, read back what had become a poem of courage and insight. It was beautiful. We had done what Rumi said: “I have put the ear of my soul in the window of your heart.”
We are blessed with a multitude of ways to meaningfully express ourselves. All we need to do is pick what works for us. We can sing and dance. We can journal or write poetry. We can knit, sew, play an instrument, or plant a garden. We can exercise, paint, meditate, or spent time with nature. I like to express myself by bringing the outdoors indoors, so I have flowering plants, bamboo reeds, rocks, and shells in the house. They feed my soul.
Sometimes we need to express ourselves by yelling or screaming. Not wanting to scare people or animals, in the past I have driven to the far side of a park and, with the windows up, screamed until I didn’t need to do it anymore. It was then I discovered the truth of what Christine Caine writes: “Sometimes when you are in a dark place you think you have been buried, but actually you have been planted.” After screaming came the peace of knowing that, no matter how grim my life looked, the change and resources I needed were on the way. And later I would thank life for what I learned from the toughest places.
Marcy Purdy will be returning to offer more opportunities for delving further into our soul stories. She is a compassionate person with the greatest respect for everyone’s journey. When we break down we are given an opportunity to break through. The journey in between is sacred. Whenever we begin to doubt ourselves, wondering how much further we can go, let’s remember how far we have come. Where our wounds are is where the light enters, so celebrate your soul story, whatever it is. It’s a beautiful way strengthen yourself and encourage the people around you.
Until Next Time – Sylvia