Beautiful are those whose brokenness gives birth to transformation and wisdom. ~~John Mark Green

Some sort of tragedy happens every day, whether it be a world event or something that goes terribly wrong in our day.

Lately, the devastating fires in Maui have weighed heavily on my heart and soul. Some of the heaviness comes from having recently visited Kaua’i, one of the neighboring Hawaiian Islands. My main memory of my journey relates to the soothing energy of the area. Now I imagine the shock, overwhelm and destruction. What keeps going through my mind, though, is the opportunity for transformation and renewal that will eventually appear on the horizon. 

I’m reminded of an experience of transformation I witnessed many years ago. In June of 1988, just three days before I graduated high school, Yellowstone National Park caught fire. It was the worst fire in U.S. history up to that time, burning nearly 800,000 acres of land, which equaled 36% of the total acreage of the park. Humans started nine fires, while forty-two were ignited from lightning strikes. This showed that both people and Mother Nature together caused the destruction. Oddly, the world’s first national park established in the country was also the first to go up in flames. It took over five months for the final embers to go out and millions of trees and thousands of animals perished in the historical event, something that both literally and figuratively scarred both our land and nation.

I visited Yellowstone for the first time in 2011, twenty-three years after the historic—and horrific event. As I drove through this huge national park, I saw rolling hills of lush lodgepole pines, the trees most affected by the fire. As far as I could see, millions of new growth trees—all much taller than I—covered the hills. What few knew about these pines is that their seeds, hidden tightly in the cones they produced, could only be released when exposed to the heat of fire. In this case, only when tragedy struck could a new forest emerge and thrive. The joyful and uplifting energy I experienced while seeing new growth shifted my awareness of why the destruction of ancient forests was necessary for the land to evolve.

We don’t know what good will come from the tragedy in Maui and we may never know whether it was nature or human error that caused the fire. However, I continue to see value arrive from whatever it is that challenges people most. The reality is that while the human condition creates sometimes unthinkable struggle, our soul keeps us fighting for life. This never-ending energy pushes us forward even when everything seems to fall down around us.

Scientists who study energy know that it never dissolves or disappears, it just transforms. One form of energy simply transmutes to another, but it never dies. Those who use energy to heal—body and energy workers—usually refer to the chakras, or energy points in the body. In Sanskrit, chakra means ‘’wheel” and are understood to be energy centers within the body that correspond to bundles of nerves, major organs and areas of our energetic body that impact our emotional and physical well-being. When something happens to disrupt these energy centers, we must work to rebalance them to feel aligned once more so that we can continue to grow. If one or more of the chakras is blocked, slow or misfires in some way, it can stunt growth and/or alter our comfort within the human condition.

The same is true for the Earth. The planet has “earth chakras” that must occasionally be balanced and realigned to keep it and all inhabitants moving forward on its evolutionary path.

Interestingly, Maui is known as the heart chakra of the world—the location on the planet that is most similar to the heart chakra of a human. Scientists have discovered that Haleakala volcano energetically resonates at 7.8 cycles per second, the same resonance of our hearts and the most natural state of the Earth. Mother Earth—the planet that sustains and nurtures us, must have needed a reset. When I step back and look at the bigger picture of energy, renewal and evolution, it all makes sense, despite the despair that it caused for those directly involved. This awareness also brings peace in understanding both that Maui will heal and that it is a sign that love consciousness is on the rise, regardless of the darkness that is currently veiling the area. 

We are in an evolutionary cycle known as the Age of Aquarius, a time when the revelation of truth and the expansion of consciousness is reaching far more noticeable levels. It is a time of enlightenment—a time when more people will open to a higher way of living in and experiencing the world. But what comes before light? Darkness.

This darkness is apparent in many things we currently see in the world: the revelation of corruption, various forms of racism, sexism and bias of any sort, a general lack of integrity, imbalance of power and more. In other words, the strife we see in the world right now is the slow and painful process of washing out darkness. It is the darkness before the light, even though we have no idea how long this dimness will go on.

For many years, I’ve talked about love consciousness and the slow, but apparent evolution to understanding Oneness—

the idea that all of us are in this human thing together and that as we expand our awareness to accept, love and cherish one another we will reach our highest state of evolution. This is when separateness ceases to exist and we all become one—connected energetically and through an evolved level of conscious awareness. Unfortunately, we are most awakened to a bigger awareness of life through personal tragedy we experience.

Just yesterday, a soul-healing client shared that the tragic loss of her son to suicide was the jolt she needed to live her own life differently. She credits this event to her spiritual awakening and now finds great comfort in realizing there is a much more conscious and enriching life ahead with the new lens from which she views the world.

I do not wish harm on anyone, but I do get excited when an opportunity to evolve appears. As a therapist and soul-healing specialist, I can see beyond the pain to know that the opportunity for new growth is ahead for anyone who experiences a difficult time in their lives. These experiences are often called dark nights of the soul, a term first used by Saint John of the Cross in the late 1500s to explain the immensely dark period a person can experience as all seems to be falling apart, taking joy along with it. As I see it, after every dark night there is a dawn, a new beginning waiting to present new growth. It is the soul’s right and privilege to evolve, regardless of what the human condition dishes out. Unfortunately, it is often this human condition that catalyzes the soul’s evolution.

In the most difficult times, it is important to remember that although we might be focused on the pain of our human experiences, we are simultaneously growing as souls. This awareness can get us through the most challenging events and help us to transform.

How many times have you felt like you wouldn’t be able to get through a tragedy, difficult transition or dark time in your life? How often did you later acknowledge that these terrible events led you to a new understanding of life, to meeting new people, or creating a whole new path that enriched your experience? Surprisingly, this happens more often than not and most go on to rebuild their lives in a positive way—paths that would have never happened had the difficult event not occurred. It is the soul, the diving life force within, that propels any living thing forward to create a powerful resilience to grow beyond—or even around—whatever once threatened their existence. In the end, it is our inner light that guides us through the darkness.

My favorite Buddhist author, Pema Chodron, says, “To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.” She means that with every challenge or tragedy, it is an opportunity to learn, grow and become more conscious.

Nobody knows what will happen from one moment to the next. However, each breath offers new life and each creates opportunity to grow. Discomfort always accompanies evolution.

So, as Pema Chodron also says, we get through these times breath by breath. In each one is a new beginning.

The wings of transformation are born of patience and struggle.

~~Janet S. Dickens

Katherine T. Kelly Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

Katherine T. Kelly Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

With 35+ years of direct clinical experience, Dr. Kelly doesn’t just believe in helping others to heal; instead, her mission is to help them to evolve. Using her own integrative and trademarked framework—the Soul Health Model—Dr. Kelly approaches her work with clients from a “whole person” or “whole organization” perspective. She provides a uniquely progressive, yet down-to-earth approach and is well-known in therapeutic, medical and corporate communities. She thrives as she helps clients and organizations to reach what she calls “conscious evolution” through a variety of self-designed strategies. Her dedication to healing has been widely recognized as she was the recipient of the Provider of the Year Award by the regional Mental Health Association and was nominated as an Incredible Woman for a local community television network, which spotlights role models to inspire young women to pursue their own passions.

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