I spent last weekend, over four grueling days, at a workshop. I’m trying to find the right words to express the heart of my experience. Do you remember in elementary school a teacher who demonized one student over the school year?
When I was in the fourth grade my teacher systematically dismantled me psychologically. She dragged me from class into the hallway; thirty plus pairs of eyes watching with everything from horror to secret glee. Yelling, shaking me, or finger flying dangerously in my face I was castigated and shamed.
Her voice arcing, just loud enough for the class, who I could feel were on the edges of their seats and straining to listen, could distinguish her criticisms of me. Only when I collapsed in tears would she send me back into the room.
Thirty pairs of eyes swung to the door to watch my re-entry. My face flaming with embarrassment, choking on snot, the walk to my desk took forever. Doing my best to swallow my sobs I put my desk top up, tunneling my head in the desk interior. By the end of the school year I was a wreck.
This weekend I was back in the fourth grade being bullied by the teacher. Wait! Didn’t the same thing happen to Cinderella?
Cinderella was systematically broken down by her stepmother. Trapped, Cinderella struggled not to absorb the wicked stepmother’s opinion of her. This weekend I was trapped in the world of the seminar teacher. Like Cinderella I was the object of disdain, doing my best to not to take in the negative opinion of me. I hope you don’t need me to talk about the specific ways and strategies used disenfranchise me from the rest of the class. Too toxic!
How did Cinderella keep herself sane walking the crazy terrain of the wicked stepmother? She stayed connected to love. This is not the love of hearts and flowers or violins playing in the background. Cinderella made practical acts of love. They buffered the stress of living with the wicked stepmother.
Cinderella pours love into every task. She creates beauty and her efforts are tied to a greater purpose. When she keeps her home beautiful she honors her parent’s memory. This love also caught the eye of the Fairy Godmother.
I call these challenging times the Great Silence. The world seemingly turns against us despite our best efforts. The Great Silence can last days, months and even years. In Cinderella’s story who knows how long the Great Silence lasted before the appearance of the Fairy Godmother?
The Great Silence can also happen when we define a goal and power tests us. Are we worthy? Do we have the necessary skills and the required spirit needed to pull our dream into temporal form?
Okay. So where are we? Being beaten up by wicked stepmothers? It turns out we are in good company. The antidote? Corny as it sounds, love. Bring love to our tasks and dreams. Does love set us free? Maybe. We learn endlessly evolving lessons. We mature our dreams beyond the Great Silence to create our destinies. WHEW!