Recently I completed an online learning that focused on integrating different kinds of care. It opened my eyes to much of the work I do as a grief specialist and support person. It focused on integrating spirituality into all therapy. There is a much deeper topic to cover than what this short eight hours of training could muster. That said, it brought out in me an awareness of how we are quite ignorant to infusing the spiritual into daily life. Spirituality is not religion. Religion is a means by which many live out their spirituality. So that said, how do those who do not consider themselves religious tap into this part of ourselves? Hildegard of Bingen said, "The soul is kissed by God in its innermost region." So I ask, are you in touch with your soul, or your spirit by another name? Do you ever integrate your discontent, dissatisfaction or sadness with a longing of the soul?
One winter night, in the full moon, we went for a stealth hike. Equipped with headlamps, we headed into the bush on a trail by the light of the moon. The haunting shadows and the unknown all around us. Ironically, just this weekend we hiked this area in full light of the sun and my memory of that night came flooding back. How this piece of the trail could represent two opportunities for viewing overwhelmed me, simply by the time and day one chooses to travel. I recognized the completely different feelings I witnessed and was in awe. This is integrating spirituality with hiking as I recognize how I feel, felt and witness my life with awareness and a desire to better understand myself.
That moonlit night we felt the change in our bodies as the fear of the unknown and the darkness overcame us. There was a moment where I was following with and I made the joke, “If I am talking and all of a sudden, mid-sentence, I stop ….” And I let the sentence hang. The horror movies of the past came flooding back to my daughter as she yelled at me and came back to link arms with me. She said, “You’re mean! Have you not seen the movie ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ here we walk together arm in arm from now on!” I laughed so hard, it was so much fun. Adrenaline flowing freely through our bodies and with heightened awareness we continued our journey. The coyotes were singing their song to the moon in the distance and the night was so still. It was a beautiful experience, even though it was frightening and stretched our courage. Our desire to conquer our fears and stand fast in our footsteps pushed us on testing the limits.
It gave me, the therapist in me, a first-hand experience and a reminder of what it feels like for many of the clients I work with. I am a seasoned grief worker and there is not much that scares me anymore. I have walked with people into the darkest nights of the soul while they were just as skittish, afraid and resisting as I was that night. I have walked with mothers whose children have died, and those whose children have taken their own life. I have walked with daughters and sons who will never have the chance again in this life to apologize to their parents and I have walked with husbands and wives who, in the dark of the night, simply wonder if they can ever go on. I have walked my own dark night of the soul through addiction, divorce, death and loss. I have asked the question often, “Where is it in my soul that God has kissed me? I want to find that sweet spot.” This is spirituality. Connecting with the creative, divine source within our hearts that helps us to witness any darkness.
That night, on the trail, the moon was full and the shadows long. Another night it would have been as dark as a black hole in space with no moon, however in looking very closely one would have still seen some light. Only in a black hole is the absence of light so profound that hope feels lost. Hope is only lost in the dark night of the soul if you choose to walk the hiking trail alone. Deep in your soul is a spiritual connection waiting for you to reach in and ask it for courage and strength. Our racing, consumeristic lives have silenced this wee small voice as we seek to fulfill our human needs. When we stop and turn off all the neon lights, do we truly find the light that we need? In the darkness comes the glow of the kiss on our heart. That night, hiking we found our courage and, more than courage, our trust in ourselves to walk the path with a knowing that all will be well.
Many people suffer and live a Job story. The story of bad things happening to good people. That said, much of our bad is self-inflicted. It’s actually not so bad when we stop and take stock of what is going on. That is spirituality. Sitting with our lives, our vision, our viewpoint and truly seeing. Integrating spirituality into our lives is like a shot in the arm. It brings awareness and strength. That night on the hiking trail was a gift I gave myself. The gift of walking into the darkness and the unknown with my heart as my light, and my trust as my armour that a light will shine. I have found my spiritual balance and my light shines from deep within me. Never am I so scared or scarred that I fear. Darkness of the soul is only a scary place if you let it. When you choose to walk it take a friend, walk together, and you will find the kiss of God on your heart.
If you need help, let me know. Write to me.
Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker and offers specialized care in Applied Metapsychology with special attention to trauma resolution. She volunteers at hospice, works as a LTC chaplain and is a death doula, assisting with end-of-life care for client and family. She is the mother part of the #DanCynAdventures duo and practices fitness, health and wellness. She is available remotely by safe and secure video connections, if you have any questions contact her today! CynthiaBreadner@gmail.com breakingstibah.com