"Where does one go from a world of insanity?
Somewhere on the other side of despair." (T.S. Eliot)

Today is simply a beautiful day in New Jersey.... the air is clear, humidity low, and the sky is filled with puffy white clouds. Funny then.. that i find myself pondering darker emotions.

When i read the above quote this morning i began to think of the troubled kids i have worked with over the years. In all those years i have never met a troubled kid who wasn't, above all else, terribly lonely. Working with these kids has taken me on a journey into the world of despair... their worlds filled with a sense of emptiness and hopelessness. Going into this world...if one hangs out long enough... is a journey through pain.... not a departure from it.

Isolation is the biggest barrier to healing. Isolation is really a failure of our human community to reach out and offer connection to the individual.

The power to enter this world is the POWER OF LISTENING.... listening is the foundation of all healing. By a kind of grace...listening transforms suffering.

Listening to anothers pain is a primary form of nuturance... kids speak their pain automatically when there is a listener. The problem is that most adults do not like listening to anothers pain(especially kids). It is difficult and uncomfortable.

Listening to anothers suffering can result in dangerous knowing. As Miriam Greenspan points out in her great book, healing through the dark emotions:

What will we find out, if we really listen?

Will we be able to bear what we then know?

What will knowing ask of us?

Listening to despair, more so then grief or fear, has a moral and social dimention that calls us to pay attention to and make meaning out of human suffering.

Listening to despair tells us what we'd rather not know.... and once we know has a way of asking.....

What is it you will do with this knowing?

posted by kang

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