The Gateways of Wisdom

Gradually, Karl and I work out that our healing process involves holding a question or problem in our hearts and minds and journeying with it through the four Gateways and into the realms of Acceptance, Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Engagement to open up opportunities for healing and reconciliation. Each domain has its own Gateway of Wisdom.

As we approach a Gateway, we may read (or hear) an encouraging message that relates to our specific inquiry. Or we may listen to a more generic message, designed to open us up to its wisdom. For example, approaching Gratitude, we might hear something like this: “Allow your heart to soften as you contemplate the gifts you received from your loved one.”

A crossroads

A Gateway may also mark a crossroads, so we might be wise to be alert to that. A signpost may beckon us to follow another path, to enter a new territory, or to discover new revelations and healing. One way of conceptualizing our journey is to imagine that the pathways can lead from the dark valleys of desolation to the elevated ground of consolation — and then on to reconciliation. Good advice is to follow the direction that is leading you to live. At a Gateway, we might, for example, remind anyone who’s listening, “This is what I am hoping you might do for me — or help me with.”

A symbol

As we approach a Gateway that may have particular significance (as Forgiveness has for me), we might lay down a symbol of our desolation, reluctance, or resistance. For example, at the Forgiveness threshold, I might surrender a clock to symbolize how I nagged Karl to keep up with me and finish things on time — and how I later begged his forgiveness for my insensitive behavior.

Or, at the Engagement Gateway, we might surrender an empty vessel — giving up our sad (and probably inaccurate) view that we have nothing to offer our community as a survivor mission.

A journeying person may find new Gateways that Karl and I did not map in our journey. We can pass through them with optimism and enthusiasm and enter their new territories. There we may find that our unique wisdom is now guiding us. As we reflect on our issue or question, it is also fine to back up and re-visit any territory or wander down an avenue as we journey through the broad landscape of healing. One by one, our steps on our healing path, hesitant, and then more confident, lead us to another question and another Gateway.

WanderING off the pathway…

And it’s fine to wander off the pathway. Fallow time is fine. We may find a shady spot to rest for a while. Perhaps along the path, we encounter a sacred grove or a walled garden where we can catch our breath and gather our thoughts. At some level, a path is little more than a metaphor for being present to what arises within us. We need to honor what is right for us in each moment. Dialoguing with our departed loved one can support our choices and our understandings of which new pathway is right for us at any time.