This past weekend I attended my third Gestalt training workshop weekend led by Mariah Fenton - Gladis and her team.
The theme for this workshop was Not for the Feint of Heart. Mariah, who has lived intimately with ALS for 34-years started off our workshop inspiring us. As usual, Mariah would go on to inspire us throughout the entire weekend in countless ways ...
Yet, I want to focus this post on Mariah's introductory words - because they are mighty and powerful in and of themselves.
On Friday night, we sat in a circle all facing and listening to Mariah with her ALS accent. Those of us in her training group easily understood her words. Doctor Dori and Doctor Mark were by her side to translate for those who had a difficult time with her words.
Mariah spoke of the fears that we all possess and how natural fear is. She told us how brave we were for walking through the door and taking the first step - how important it is to have an open heart, ready to receive everything the weekend had to offer.
Mariah shared about her recent trip to Esalen, California where she led two sold-out workshops. Also at this world- renowned Gestalt center were a group of Palestinians and Israelis. The speaker scheduled to meet with this group was Nitsan Joy Gordon, Author of The Magic of Tears.
I'm sharing the book summary that Amazon provided to show why Nitsan Joy Gordon would be such a likely choice to strive for empathy and understanding between Arabs and Jews.
"One definition of Peace is a state of harmony amongst diversity. The story is in three languages to embody this possibility.
"Shaya is a big boy now and not supposed to cry. But one day, fed up, he opens the door and runs towards the sea. On the way, guided by the wind, he discovers how the pain within our hearts can be released and healed through the Magic of Tears.
"Ultimately, Shaya's journey also helps his parents discover the magic of tears and open their hearts. The Magic of Tears describes how our natural inborn healing mechanism works in a story that will touch the hearts of children and adults. It was written and illustrated by a three generation team who live in Israel, served in the military or in national service and have experienced the Israeli Palestinian conflict "up close and personal."
"Nitsan (the mother and daughter) wrote the book, Rachella (the grandmother and mother) and Shir (the daughter and granddaughter) illustrated it. In 2003, along with her Arab and Jewish colleagues in Israel, Nitsan created the Together Beyond Words Organization (TBW) (www.beyondwords.org.il) that has since provided workshops and trainings for Arab and Jewish women and more recently men to release their pain related to the conflict, regain their ability to feel empathy towards one another and work together for change.
"The Magic of Tears describes, through the eyes of a young boy, one key aspect of our healing work. Fifty percent of the profits from this book will be donated to the Together Beyond Words Organization so we can expand our efforts to transform the pain that is fueling the conflict in the Middle East into understanding and empathy…"
Well, Nitsan Joy Gordon could not tear down the walls, But she heard Mariah was in the house and she asked her to speak to the group. And of all people, Mariah is not "feint" of heart and she readily agreed.
And she honestly admitted to us how frightened she was - because "I wanted to do it right. It was such important work. And I did."
Mariah's husband, Ron Gladis, added an amazing anecdote of information to this story. Ron translated for Mariah. Someone translated from English to Arabic. Someone else translated from Arabic to Hebrew. Ron laughed: "We never really knew what they were saying to each other."
But when Mariah was done, magic indeed had happened. Members from each of these two groups were in the middle of the room, holding hands, hugging even and better yet...crying, tears of empathy, understanding, feelings that may have been held back for a lifetime - thanks to a woman who was not "feint" of heart.
And we were charged to think about the ripple effect this could make - and in turn, the ripple effect a weekend like this could make in each one of us as we spread what we learn and feel to others - even if we have fear when we do it.
As for me, the weekend was one of insights, mind stretches and personal focus. I found some clarity I am going to strive to maintain and I will forever remember to be grateful for my many blessings as I learn more of the struggles of others.
So many songs with meaning were played through the weekend... The song I shared at the beginning to express how I was feeling is by the band Dawes, A Little Bit of Everything...
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Until next week, I wish you peace, purpose and some courage too,
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