Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

One Prayer At a Time

Some of the greatest challenges which call us to task are letting go, not being in control and finding peace with someone (or several someones) who has (or have) perceivably done you harm.

Today I was speaking with a friend who is having difficulty with all three of these things, but most especially the latter. I asked for her to pray for them and send them metta, or well-wishes. 

I told her to get quiet and find a very safe space inside of herself, bring someone whom she feels very loved by with her into that space and then say the following mantra to these people:

May you be well.
May you be peaceful.
May you be safe.
May you be at ease.


Immediately, there was resistance from her.

I understood.

It is difficult work.

To come face to face with your nemesis and send lovingkindness to him or her is a great challenge.

Now imagine if the nemesis is yourself.

The part you want to shut out or not face. The part you are most afraid of. 

What would it be like to sit with her and send metta to her? To stare into that part of yourself that is deeply wounded and try to sit with her and embrace her. 

May you be well.
May you be peaceful.
May you be safe.
May you be at ease.

What would it be like to not deny her or hide her? But to sit with her and talk to her?

I think that our nemeses are simply extended parts of ourselves which we are deeply frightened by and just need to be sat with.


We are all shaken by the suicide of Robin Williams. Probably because he was such a beacon of light and his darkness was not very visible to us. His addiction was known to us, but he was so highly functional and he kept his depression out of sight. 

From the time I was very young, probably after the age of two, there was a woman in my life, who became my step-mother who was drug-addicted on many levels as well as clinically depressed. She abused many forms of drugs and threatened to kill herself as far back as I can remember. Probably from the time, language became known to me. I do not know how many times she tried to kill herself unsuccessfully, but eventually, she did commit suicide three months after my father’s passing. 

During those three months, I recall speaking to her continually, knowing she was in agony and knowing how tenuously she was holding on. I didn’t have a metta practice then, but I must have been practicing some form of it in order to maintain a connection to her which broke the barrier of my own pain and enabled me to hold hers with care and kindness.

After she ended her life, I knew I could not fault myself. That it was a trajectory set in motion long ago and I had tried very hard to help her cope to stay here as best as I could.

One of the first things that happens after suicide, no matter how broken the relationship is, is the experience of survivor guilt. All of the things you could have done or said even as you know none of them could have helped. But it plays on inside of you nonstop and for a very long time.

My step-mother never really wanted to live. 

My father wanted “out” when things were becoming unbearable. He spoke to me about that. He bought the book FINAL EXIT (which I think eventually was banned). He wanted his pain to stop. He felt very tortured in his body and wanted a reprieve. But he was far too proud a man and far too afraid of not reconciling where he was being delivered to, to take that kind of action. So he eventually spoke to me about the afterlife since I was pushy and eager to bring it up early on into his illness and he knew I would be safe and ready to discuss the subject. But he had to get through the first three stages of grief: denial, anger and bargaining, before we could engage such a discussion. It was when he arrived at the fourth stage and became depressed that he was able to reach for me and ask for the help needed to get to the acceptance phase (the fifth stage).

But unfortunately, that is not how it always goes. That is one of the reasons, he and I are good with each other. Why I feel so much acceptance even as he did not look human upon his death. Because we had some of the hardest conversations needed between each other and because he was able to be utterly terrified in my presence before his death.

It was the same with my step-mother. She cried out in mercy before she took her life and in that, I felt and feel only mercy for her. What happened when I was young was deeply painful but somehow washed away as she cried out in such profound prayer. What else is there, really? To bear witness to a soul’s journey in that way, no matter how flawed. 


I pray that their last moments were held peacefully and not in fear.

Just as I pray for that with Robin. And pray for that with every soul’s journey. 

Because isn’t that what we each want? Peace.

To experience our last breath peacefully?


No matter what we each believe, I think most people aim to feel peaceful inside. 

And so… I am going to continue with my metta. No matter what. I'm going to continue to sit with whatever appears before me and embrace her fully. Because essentially, I believe we change the outside only by changing the inside. 

One prayer at a time.

Jill Bacharach


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