Sacred Tension

By Paul Dunion | February 19, 2012

We have become a culture obsessed with diminishing stress or tension. Our sensitivity to being over stressed is likely a good thing, however, we may have lost sight of the value of tension, especially, the tension associated with human emotions. An ancient meaning of the word “sacred” is “to sacrifice”. We can ask: What do we need to sacrifice when we are willing to hold the tension of feeling hurt, sad, angry, desperate and grief? Well, we may have to wait for an understanding of these feelings, and the comfort associated with that understanding, that is, allowing the holding of the tension to inform us.  We can work with the analogy of a woman in labor. Her uterus and the birth canal are tense, and she is instructed to breathe until her body is ready to push forward new life.  On an emotional level, we hold some truth waiting to be birthed.  One way to see emotional maturity is as a capacity to hold the tension of our emotional lives until the birth of new meaning is ready to emerge.  Recently, while holding the tension of grief, I discovered a younger version of myself, heroically devoted to ignoring his limits and attempting super human feats. I came to appreciate that you hero’s reminder that I still very capable of denying my limits.

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