The severity of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan . . . is real. It is truly a disaster with physical, emotional, and mental consequences. It is also a disaster that calls up for people whatever conscious spiritual connections they have.

This is one example of the outer physical disasters that have been occurring in our world. Physically … Katrina; Chile; Haiti; Christchurch, New Zealand; the drought in China; landslides in Uganda; and now Japan. The snow and ice storms this past winter. The rains and floods that have come of the thawing. But there are other outer disasters, too. For example, the recession of 2008 and its aftereffects, worldwide.

What people don’t often account for . . . there are people all over our world who are experiencing inner earthquakes and tsunamis everyday. The walls of their defenses falling in response to some stress in their lives. Some outer stress like losing their jobs, their homes in foreclosure, struggling to feed their children and themselves; losing their spouse because they lashed out, acting out in response to their inner turmoil, abusing their spouse and children; being unable to keep a job because they experience fear all the time. Some inner stress like long repressed memories beginning to surface into their awareness, nightmares that open the floodgates for feelings they had and buried as tiny children, vicious cycles of thoughts and feelings that are beginning to spiral out of control within.

Both the outer disasters and the inner disasters are real. They are painful. They have painful consequences. We need to take both of them seriously and work to resolve them thoroughly. We would never consider just leaving the outer devastation and moving someplace else. We would never consider just putting a tent over a nuclear power plant and hoping that would solve the problem. We would never consider not offering the best help we could give to people who were experiencing the devastating effects of a physical disaster like a tsunami. Yet we give people with inner disasters pills (sometimes) and tell them to just manage and control the disasters within . . . but not resolve them.

Since we are all connected, maybe we need to wonder about the effect they have on each other . . . the outer on the inner, the inner on the outer and both on all of us. I wonder about that . . . all the time! I send prayers to all who are experiencing inner and outer disasters . . . all the time!

© Judith Barr, 2011


Haiti —
A tragedy has occurred in Haiti.
A 7.0 earthquake that has destroyed homes, hospitals, whole towns . . .
has broken hearts . . .
has rent daily life in a million pieces.

It is very real.
People are dead, missing, hurt.
People are frightened, lost, at a loss as to how to take care of themselves
and their loved ones.

Those of us outside Haiti are having our own responses.
Thank goodness . . .
so many are feeling deep compassion,
so many are feeling sorrow for those affected,
so many are called to help.
We need to feel compassion and sorrow.
We need to help and they need our help.

But even with the call to help, even with the actual movement to help,
even as we feel the very real here-and-now pain of loss,
we need to look within and find out what is being triggered in us by this tragedy.

We all, once long ago, as babies, had something akin to this painful experience . . .
perhaps it even felt like an earthquake to our young selves and our young lives.

We all, once long ago, as babies, had something akin to this painful experience . . .
whether for a moment, a few minutes,  hours, days, weeks, or years.
We all once felt unsafe . . .
even if it was as we were coming into this world,
even if it was when our mother had the flu and couldn’t get to us when we were hungry,
even if it was when one parent yelled at us, followed by the other rocking and comforting us.
We all once felt powerless . . . even if it was when we cried and cried and couldn’t get anyone to come to take care of us
for what might have only been minutes, but seemed to us like forever.

We all once felt scared about our future . . . even if it was our future at a time we couldn’t even say the word ‘future’
or a time when a few moments felt like an entire future.

What I’m saying is this.
What is happening in Haiti leaves us with much here-and-now pain and fear.
What is happening in Haiti also touches something in us all from long ago that we know . . .
even if we don’t consciously know we know it.
And what we do with that “touching” is very important.

Our reaching out in this time of need is a wonderful thing…but we should not stop there.
If we just let those moments long ago be touched and reach out to the people of Haiti to get away from our own experiences,
we do a great disservice to everyone – the Haitians, ourselves, anyone close to us, and anyone in the future who triggers those
same feelings in us.

If, however, we let ourselves reach out to the people of Haiti and also explore the roots of our own similar experiences,
we can help our world in ways we might never have imagined.

Every one of us who explores the roots of our own feelings of powerlessness, loss, fear, and unsafety …
working through and resolving those experiences from long, long ago …
has a new kind of power, power from the inside out —
power to help us respond to danger in new, more creative, more inspired, more conscious ways —
and power to help create safety in our world today and tomorrow.

(c) Judith Barr, 2010