Stopping the Trauma Train

Befriending the Dark Design

Befriending the Dark Design

It was the smallest thing really. A little bump on the road. I was driving north on I-36 yesterday when I saw a little clod hit and spun around by the car in front of me. As I passed I saw more clearly: the tiniest bunny stunned by the blow, upright in the center of the opposite lane, its eyes wide with shock, looking into mine. For that one split second as I passed him, our eyes locked.

I made the quickest U-turn possible and raced back. But this is a heavily populated highway. By the time I arrived a minute later, the bunny was nothing more than a soft pink mass.

Collateral damage, I thought. Nobody’s fault. The product of a racing world. But my thoughts kept returning to that last glint of life, the wide eyes peering into mine. They kept talking to me about the vulnerable underbelly of our world.

How do we relate to the suffering all around us, if indeed we even see it? In my safe rural world it’s the rabbits and frogs that I find on the road, a deer or owl maimed by a speeding car. These creatures remind me that not far off lies a world of children living untenable lives, families on the run, homeless people with grave illnesses. Not whizzing by, but taking them into my heart, their eyes open me to the wider circle of helplessness that is part of life.

We have veils over our eyes, perhaps for good reason.

Taking in the pain around us can be overwhelming. Sooner or later we must realize it will never go away and make peace with it.

As people on the path of awakening we must vow to alleviate suffering wherever we find it. And truly show up. But suffering goes hand in hand with this life. It is the glove that we will all wear.

Getting familiar with suffering is now on my docket. Looking it in the eyes and not running away. Breathing it in and feeling the pain of animals and children, women and entire species trapped by the crushing wheels of life. Breathing it in and understanding how we will all be under this wheel at one time or another, however brave and adept at life we are. Then breathing out, our still-able bodies and minds sending not pity, but soft arrows of joining, camaraderie, and forgiveness for the dark design in which we all take part.

“Revel in it,” I imagine the creature’s eyes saying to me. “I didn’t get my chance but you have yours now. Take it. Your time will come soon enough.”


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  • Reply Laya August 24, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Beautifully expressed!

  • Reply Aleza August 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    Thank you, Tirzah.

  • Reply Eve Ilsen August 24, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    I know this experience.
    Reading it makes me cry.

  • Reply Phillip Olson August 25, 2016 at 10:31 am


    Thank you.

  • Reply Rochelle Firestone August 27, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    “Every account of a higher power that I’ve seen described, of all religions that I’ve seen, include many statements with regard to the benevolence of that power. When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, I find it hard to reconcile that with statements of beneficence.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

    • Reply Aleza August 27, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      I do want to reply. I’ve been listening to neil Degrade Tyson a lot. I need time to ingest this.

  • Reply Laya August 27, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    hahaha..degrading deGrasse?

  • Reply Oli September 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing Tirzah. This passage reminds me of the beauty of certain paradoxes:

    “As people on the path of awakening we must vow to alleviate suffering wherever we find it. And truly show up. But suffering goes hand in hand with this life. It is the glove that we will all wear.”

    Yes, we must at the same time, in the same breath here and now, vow to alleviate suffering and accept that it will never go away… giving up on the vow will make things worse for us, and so would a denial of the reality of suffering… We can only thrive by embracing the paradox of both the vow and the acceptance… Love and gratitude for the rabbit’s glance, and horror at our own death… within the same breath.

    Thanks Tirzah, beautiful!

  • Reply Carrie September 3, 2016 at 5:15 am

    That was so tenderly powerful…. I am passing it on to my son & grandson as a healing balm…this is compassion wrapped in grace….
    I am enjoying your powerful writings, they have been a balm for my soul, as we are in these transformational times……I am in Ahhh …Bless your Beautiful Soul…Much love, Carrie

  • Reply Barry Barkan September 15, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    My teacher!!!

  • Reply Binah March 3, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Dear Chavera; Your communication is as impeccable as ever.
    Reading your apt metaphors, I am taken directly to my history of working with People With Aids(PWAs; even that term is gone); how many times did i get close to a person who quickly deteriorated physically and mentally? The answer is hundreds; I once counted more than 3oo dear ones I knew through their transitions. Then, there is being a caregiver now to mt nona generian parents who are Holocaust Survivors, with all the complexities of their PTSD. And still, I continue to offer trauma therapy, becoming deeply connected to every client. I feel humbled by the aliveness that resides throughout the process of staying present and facing the ugliness; the ugliness which quickly becomes just being together, with no observer. Each experience is holy and exhilarating, an intimate journey toward a comfortable solitude. Isn’t life grand?

    • Reply Tirzah Firestone March 4, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you Binah. You are a clear manifestation of your Name!

      —— “*The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are*.” ― C.G.

      Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Ph.D.

      Follow my blog!

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