January 13, 2014

Crisis & Spiritual Transformation. ~ Camilla Sanderson

The final catalyst was my husband’s cancer diagnosis—a malignant tumor was found around his heart in October‭ ‬2010.‭

My husband is a guy who swapped a Manhattan high-rise corporate office, an‭ ‬1890s parlor level brownstone apartment with high ceilings and a wood burning fireplace located on the gold coast of Greenwich Village in ‬New York city‭ ‬for a maple sugar shack, a barn, a tractor and a log cabin in the woods of New Hampshire.‭

And I went with him.

It took a lot to get us to the point of making such a drastic change in our lives,‭ ‬and the state of how humanity interacts with our planet was a part of‭ ‬what prompted the change.‭ ‬We’d been living lives where the value we placed on materialism was unhealthy for us.‭

We were disconnected from nature,‭ ‬the change of seasons,‭ ‬and the natural rhythms of life.‭ ‬While we had considered making such a change‭ ‬for a few years,‭ ‬the final catalyst was my husband being diagnosed with a malignant tumor around his heart in October‭ ‬2010.

In his mid-40s, I witnessed Jamie face his own death, and in doing so, he chose to live his life differently.‭ ‬It’s ironic that it takes a crisis in love, money or health before we do the inner work needed to evolve our consciousness and transform our spirit.‭ ‬It’s ironic because the truth is, every one of us will die.‭ ‬But it’s not until the point at which our death feels real and up-close, that we pay much attention to the way we are choosing to live, and how that affects our inner and our outer lives.‭

Often what may appear to be an incredibly successful outer life, can sometimes be hiding a not-so-happy inner life.‭

And the reverse can be true too‭—we may be leading lives of immense inner fulfillment yet to an outside judging consciousness, it may appear to be a very ordinary life.

Are we at a point in history where people are beginning to care less about the outward appearance of financial success? About how our lives appear to others?‭ Are we beginning to care more about what is happening with our inner lives? About our impact on the planet‭? ‬

Are we slowly becoming more conscious of what our inner lives actually are‭? ‬Becoming more connected with the feelings we may be experiencing‭? ‬Becoming more willing to express the real truth of who we are in the world, and manifest our soul’s purpose? As a species are we becoming more loving, accepting and compassionate‭?

I hope so. I certainly feel like I’m witnessing this, and it’s a joy to see.‭

It feels like we’re at a tipping point in the evolution of human consciousness, which is a pretty joyful time to be alive.‭

I realize, as I witness the one year anniversary of the Sandyhook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT and listen to the parents of murdered children talk about love, compassion, forgiveness and healing, that this is another example of how a crisis can‭ ‬be a spiritually transforming experience.‭

‬Nurturing Healing Love by Scarlett Lewis and Natasha Stoynoff tells the story of one of the parents who has made it her life’s mission to create safer environments for the children in our world, and to choose love.‭

I’ve heard interviews with other parents who, recognizing the political gridlock around gun control laws, are coming to understand that change will need to be at a grassroots community level.‭ ‬One interview featured a parent discussing how laws were not effective in bringing down the number of drunk driving accidents, yet the grassroots movements such as‭ ‘‬designated drivers‭’ ‬and‭ ‘‬moms against drunk driving‭’ ‬amongst others, were successful at bringing those drunk accident numbers down over time.‭

These are the kinds of movements that many of the Sandyhook parents have now dedicated their lives to create.‭ ‬What an‭ ‬amazing result of such a tragedy, that is also a‭ ‬crisis of our times.

To have one’s own child killed senselessly ‬and to find meaning from such an event, is heroic. It shows how this crisis has been a spiritually transforming experience for these parents.

A crisis can bring out the best in people.‭ ‬A crisis can align us more closely with our soul’s purpose ‬and transform our spirit, if we allow it.

The truth of my experience with my husband’s cancer crisis, is that he’s a different man now to the man I knew before he had cancer.‭ ‬There are many differences in the way he chooses to live his life.‭

As can be seen in our outer lives,  we gave up lucrative, successful New York city careers, and exchanged them for living a very simple life amongst the trees, more in tune with nature, and living more sustainably—which includes growing our own veggies and keeping chickens.‭

In our inner lives, my experience of Jamie is that he’s now more loving in a different way.‭

‬Before cancer I experienced him as loving in a ‘‬trying to please‭’ ‬way—he was almost looking for my approval with his love.‭ ‬After cancer he evolved to where he is now, able to practice the art of extreme self-care, and through truly loving and accepting who he is, his love overflows to those he holds dear.‭ ‬I truly believe this a key element of his complete healing from cancer.

That’s not to say he’s not human, he is.‭ ‬And he has his muck like the rest of us.‭ ‬And, like every human being, he now realizes that like the lotus flower, he blossoms not in spite of, but because of that muck.‭ ‬This, in itself, has been a spiritually transforming concept for‭ ‬me to learn.‭

It was through his cancer crisis, and the time and the space we had to be at home as Jamie endured the hell of the chemotherapy journey, that we both realized that the time was ripe to make a change in our lives.‭ ‬That was the gift of his cancer crisis for us both.

This story was originally published on The Good Men Project.

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Camilla Sanderson