By Galina Krasskova
There are times in every shaman or spirit worker’s life when he or she wonders if what we do is worth it. There are times, where the frustration, exhaustion, and constant work overwhelm. There are times, many of them, when burn-out threatens; and there are times when we wish for nothing more than a normal, quiet, un-magical life. There’s no shame in any of this: it happens. It’s part of being human. There are also times, however, beautiful, magical, breathtaking moments where the Gods send us the immense gift of showing us exactly why we’re doing this and exactly how it’s touching those we interact with and by extension, why it is important that we persevere. Those moments can make all the pain, frustration, and exhaustion worthwhile. They are small gifts of grace and more precious than any jewel. I received just such a gift this past Sunday.
Like most shamans, I regularly see a plethora of clients for everything from counseling to divination to the teaching of specific skills. This past Sunday I was meeting with a woman in order to teach her basic psychic hygiene. She is a strong empath and in her work as a social worker, the untrained gift was giving her some trouble. Now for the past couple of weeks, I had also been praying to Odin, asking Him to show one of His women (another client of mine) how deeply He loves her, to give her a bit of positive reinforcement as she embarks on a very difficult and grueling part of her Work for Him. I never expected that through a client, He would give me that self-same gift.
During the course of our work this past Sunday, my client shared with me something that had been bothering her in her own work for some time. She counsels a woman who had lost an eye in an accident (Her client, whom I shall call X. had actually been stabbed in the eye several years ago) and due to poverty had never been able to have any reconstructive surgery done. My client mentioned that even some of the other counselors and social workers at her job respond badly to this woman and are very derogatory (it’s a difficult thing to be a woman with any type of unusual appearance in our society, most especially in the eyes of other women). She said “X has one good eye and…” and I interjected with “and one good eye.” And then I told her, moved to tears by the image of the woman X. that came to mind, that in her scarred face, X embodied the God that I love and serve above all Others. For me, to look upon her was to see the face of Odin beautifully, powerfully, exquisitely reflected in human form. There is nothing more beautiful than that. As the image of X’s face dominated my mind all I could say is “how beautiful she is.” Even now, I am nearly moved to tears recounting this experience. It’s a simple thing, but an immensely powerful thing to see one’s Love reflected in the most unexpected of places.
My client began to cry and expressed how very much that meant to her and how much it would help her give X. the assistance that she needs. She said they often “go to places” where such things can be discussed. As we continued with her lessons, going over the basics of psychic hygiene (cleansing, centering, grounding, shielding) that would provide the foundation by which she could learn to control and use her gift of Empathy better, tears flowed freely as my own client experienced for the first time a sense of comfortable wholeness in her body, a sense that she had a right to be in the world just as she was. I saw what my commitment to the Work entrusted to me can do. I saw why, in the form of a crying, joyous woman curled in a chair in my workroom, it really is all worthwhile.
There are times our work royally sucks. Then there are times like this where from the most unexpected of places, at the most unexpected of times, simple graces are poured like jewels into our open hands.
I was recounting this story today to an academic colleague who was asking me about my religion and spiritual practices. She looked at me surprised and said, “So…your religion is really an every day thing?” The question surprised me, but I realized yes, yes it is: every moment, every breath; and there are times, like today, when I am immensely grateful for that. Gratitude enhances our practice. It, like prayer, helps us hold the line when everything in our hearts and minds and very tired spirits says “just give up.” I have said before and I will say it again: if you do the work, the Gods will provide. Recognizing that and allowing your heart to be filled with gratitude for that care, for that love, for those most unexpected of blessings, well, that’s part of our work too and it’s the part that can benefit us the most.