Catharsis as Healing Release

I have been feeling unbalanced. Though I am relaxed physically, finally letting the warm, long days buoy me gently down the stream, I’m still unbalanced at the core. I think it’s the strange evil lurking in politics, among other things for me, the usual questions of who I am, where I’m going.

My housemate is away for the summer. (he really is my housemate, a renter of a room) But he’s about as nice as a housemate can be. I miss his sweet energy. I went into his room yesterday to open a window after a storm. He left the door open when he left. His stuff is there, but the floor is empty because he packed up his air mattress. There is no rug. The late afternoon light came in through his uncovered windows and the hardwood floor glowed, amber lit from within. I felt a pang of poignancy. Ten months had passed since he moved in. Where is my life going?

I don’t want to infringe on his privacy any more than I already have. But you get the picture. He surrounds himself with the things he likes. His room gives off the same sweet energy as he.

As I left the room, I noticed a sheet of paper with an excerpt from Middlemarch by George Eliot. It seemed to be placed right where it could be noticed. He had been reading it for the third or fourth time before he left. We had discussed it’s subtlety and depth, and I said I ought to read it. Now it spoke to me.

“But I have a belief of my own, and it comforts me.”
“What is that?”
“That by desiring what is perfectly good, even when we don’t quite know what it is and cannot do what we would, we are part of that divine power against evil– widening the skirts of lights and making the struggle with darkness narrower.”
“That is a beautiful mysticism– it is a –”
“Please do not call it by any name… It is my life. I have found it out, an cannot part with it. I have always been finding out my religion, since I was a little girl. I used to pray so much– now I hardly ever pray. I try not to have desires merely for myself, because they may not be good for others, and I have too much already…”
“God bless you for telling me!”
“What is yourreligion?” said Dorothea. “I mean–not what you know about religion, but the belief that helps you most?”
“To love what is good and beautiful when I see it,” said Will. “but I am a rebel: i don’t feel bound, as you do, to submit to what I don’t like.”
“But if you like what is good, that comes to the same thing.”

Something about that moment triggered a release. The amber light, the sweet, soft air, the aura of his room, the spiritual simplicity of the excerpt, like beams of pure cleansing light through my soul. I broke down and wept openly for a few minutes. Everything seemed alright. It was all OK. Much needed catharsis. Poetic moment.

7 thoughts on “Catharsis as Healing Release

  1. Wonderful writing and reflections…

    The national and world events certainly have and continue to affect me to the point where I found the need to limit some of my news exposure to continued examples of social and political intolerance, stupidity and war news. I know what I need to know (an ex news&politics-junkie never completely stays away) and fire off my faxes and emails to voice my opinion, but then – sometimes with more difficulty than others- let it go… the release of tears is one way that sometimes helps me (but letting go enough to allow that to happen is still sometimes difficult) .. knowing that I am doing what I can with what energy I have for my little corner of things, is another; as is appreciating the things that are good and right (taking time to let others know they are appreciated and sending out those ripples).

    But the slight nagging feeling that I am off center of where I might want/need to be, continues to plague me.. I am not sure if it is this stage of my life and my thought processes about it, or a symptom of something larger in myself and relationships or something/thought/ desire/want/hope – that needs ‘giving up’ in order to gain.

    The passage you quoted sure does give food for thought..
    Thank you ..

  2. Stormwind-What I think I’m missing is faith. With my secular way of seeing the world, it’s difficult to develop faith, which is not “scientific”. Faith is cultivated hope. It takes practice. I think it’s missing from much of our culture, especially from well educated, secular culture. I haven’t found the switch to turn it on.

    Also, my lack of a regular spiritual practice throws me off. I have friends who are well versed in many spiritual practices, but practice none. Zen mind worked for me for awhile, but my life is too cluttered to feel that pure emptiness.

    Hmm, what I just wrote is revealing. It’s amazing how stuffed our lives get, supposedly with “meaningful” things. I feel burdened by much of my daily life. How can I lighten up????

    thanks for the comment, and for triggering that thought…

  3. Lovely post, Garnet. I’m not surprised the Middlemarch quote–seemingly so much about the very personal–triggered the necessary release about both the personal AND the political… Once had a fascinating conversation about how the TOWN of Middlemarch functions as a Chorus (as in Classical Greek plays–at times prescient, omniscient, at times commenting on the action and voicing the reader’s judgments, forwarding the action, triggering the events even as behaving as though they are neutral, etc). Maybe on some intuitive and language level the relationship between the town/politic and the person/spiritual was fully evident even in such a short passage from the book. George rocks, she was so smart and good and beautiful. So is this post; thanks.

  4. I remember reading her words when I was a teenager and thinking what I think Jessamyn said above. I felt then (and now) that passage was one that exemplifed “George”as the rebel: a woman writer who would not have been published in her time, without taking a man’s name. It seems she had deep faith in herself. (I have not refreshed my memory on her bio nor researched her, so I could be wrong.)

    “amber light…aura… spiritual simplicity, catharsis…poetic moment ” Hmm. To be in that place. Thank you for sharing this in such a poetic manner.

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