A client came to the allotment very distressed. Something happened that triggered again the underlining fear that at any time everything can be taken away from her. Haunted by a horrific past, experiencing a daily struggle to survive and hardly being able to sustain the hope that one day life could feel safe again, she felt thoroughly hopeless and despondent and so tired.
Torture takes away innocence; the innocence that life can be trusted, that the world is not there to harm us, and it is safe just to be. We all lose this innocence one way or another. But survivors of torture lose it in a most brutal, sudden and uncompromising way. This innocence is then replaced by searching and hoping for that illusive day when we can say that we feel safe.
There I was, sitting with her in the middle of her small plot just holding hands, knowing that she is so very right in her despair. It had started raining and the wind got slightly chilly and wet. It was just miserable all around. But then suddenly, without having done anything to make it change, everything changed. When she lifted her head, a wet, open and sparkling, almost childlike face looked at me.
The whole story of her life seemed to have dropped off from that face for a moment and what was left was only her soul looking through. She looked around, and then announced: "It is so beautiful!" What we were seeing was just that: the rain, the clouds, the trees moving in the wind, the dampness of clothes and the ground turning muddy; nothing else. No thought that it all ought to be different; just looking and embracing the beauty and magic of it all. It was all so simple - and just the idea that something needed to be added to make this moment more perfect would have felt utterly absurd.
I do not believe for a second that an event like this can transform us instantly. Indeed, the next day my client was back calling me, hoping that the next course of action would bring relief. However, something has touched her which is real and undeniable. A spark has been placed inside her which will ignite her fire. The hope that this will happen I call "Radical Hope".
"Radical Hope" is not a hope that promises something; it does not give anything. It actually takes something away: it takes away our obsession with our stories and our hope that within these stories any answers can be found. Nature is a wonderful place to experience that.
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