Shiva is the power of destruction, dissolution, or transformation in our lives. Nothing entirely new and innovative can be created without this strong, and often unsettling, force that turns the tables on the status quo, normality, and habituation. Without Shiva, our lives would be dull and uneventful—one long Groundhog Day, playing the same scene over and over again. Yet the word destruction strikes fear in our hearts; we freeze at the very thought of losing what is dear to us. Of losing everything.
Hurricanes like Irma, Maria, and Harvey embody this extreme aspect of Shiva. Monumental raging winds and rising water completely obliterate the old, often leaving thousands homeless and grieving the deaths of friends and family. In the aftermath, something new is eventually created, but loss of home and loss of life are not easily assimilated or accepted. Those affected may experience emotional trauma as well as financial burdens. These human crises break our hearts. How do we face life at times like these?
Not easy. Granted, hurricanes are not daily occurrences, but loss of one kind or another is. There is not a day that passes in our lives that we don’t lose something—or believe that we do. Life on Earth brings us face to face with the end of relationships, jobs, living situations, and life itself. We cannot avoid it. Grief at times like these is entirely natural, but our beliefs about those experiences shape what comes after. Unless we can move on and create something new afterward, despair may take hold. This is where faith comes in. Trust in some greater, ultimately benevolent presence in the universe, and in the compassion of our fellow human beings. Belief in a positive outcome, whatever the circumstance.
Recently, I took part in a weekend spiritual retreat that was the energetic equivalent of a hurricane. Everything that had been superimposed on my soul’s essence over the years was wiped out, dissolved. This had been happening bit by bit anyway, but now I was becoming something like a clean slate. There was nothing to attach the memories of my old self to anymore. Both liberating and painful. The painful part was that my recent experiences of oneness and illumination were also gone—or at least seemingly so. I could feel no connection to God whatsoever. Or to anything or anyone else. I felt as if I were ghost-walking through my own life, lost and alone. An island on which all lines of communication have been knocked out.
Gradually, however, I began to gain some insight into what was occurring. I was being asked to go further and dive deeper—beyond surrender and trust, to faith. Faith that God, or Goddess, was present even when I couldn’t feel that presence. Faith that everything was happening for a reason: to ultimately bring me to an even more expansive awareness of God/dess within me. I couldn’t completely experience that until what had come before had been dissolved. Within spaciousness, life unfolds, the Divine manifests. Slowly, this has occurred, like restoring downed lines after a hurricane. Day by day, moment by moment, I am feeling divine connection again, and with it, a deeper faith in its ever-presence, which reconnects me to the world as well.
This kind of process can be set in motion by any great loss or unforeseen ending, in the course of which we are swept clean and sent on our way again to experience life at a deeper level, beyond what we thought was final. We learn that even in the worst of times, if we reach out to one another and open ourselves to new beginnings, we will survive. Faith replaces fear. It is the bird singing in the darkness, reminding us that dawn is at hand.
Often we believe death to be the ultimate ending, but it too is transition, transformation. God consciousness, embodied in you and me, is never-ending. Our souls know this, and it is this inner faith that will carry us forward if we experience loss or disconnection. Eventually, the creative force of life fills us with divine energy, and we are transformed yet again through the powerful hidden blessing that is Shiva.