Monday, 8 December 2008
A LITTLE CHURCH WITH THE BIGGEST HEART
Teddy Bears are very important to me. They have been since I was a child.Then all my imaginary games would involve the characters that my bears were. I was never into dolls, they annoyed me. But anything I could cuddle and tell my troubles to was alright with me.
Nowadays I have four bears that sit at the side of my bed and a cat, who I think is grey and who my sons tell me is purple, who sits on one of the bears legs.
These friends see me through all those times when life sucks and I cry my eyes out. When there is no-one else around and the pain of keeping the words in gets too much and so I tell the bears.
Armed with this knowledge of what bears are capable of I have always used bears in my working life. It used to be that I had a therapy bear that would accompany me to work to be on hand for any client that needed his support.( Bears are always male, cats female.... I don't know why either!)
But latterly I discuss the use of bears with my clients. It's when I'm talking about letting go of their feelings, as in expressing their anger in a healthier way than perhaps they've been using, as in getting a punch bag and letting go of that physical and mental energy that makes up rage.
And then discussing how they are going to let go of their pain. The pain that you hug your arms around yourself and talk in a small voice about it not being fair. The pain that needs to be said for a release of feelings to feel better.
So I suggest to all the clients, male and female when I'm helping them find another way that they need a friend. The friend they need will listen to them 24/7, will give them a hug for as long as they need, will not mind getting wet with tears, and this friend is a bear.
It has to be said by the time I tell people this they are ready to hear it and do not roll their eyes and think I've lost the plot. They understand the value of talking, and more importantly perhaps of being heard. The need to let go of the voices in our heads is vital to emotional and psychological well being.
And frankly not many of us have real friends who we will bother 24 hours a day when we feel overwhelmed with emotional shit.Human beings are all very good at being there for other people. How many times have you said to someone, call me anytime day or night and meant it. And how many times when you have felt desperate have you been able to lift up that phone and say please help?
We don't do it, even though the people who love us would hate to think of us being in pain and would be there like a shot, we hook into not wanting to bother anyone.
And so the bear comes into his own. Why? Because when we were tiny and our parents put us into our cots at night most people got a bear or something similar popped into the bed to act as a companion through the night as we learnt to cope on our own.
And what has all this got to do with the picture of the Church at the top?
This is St Paul's, it is in the heart of the financial district of New York, it is completely surrounded by skyscrapers of which the biggest was it's immediate neighbour the World Trade Centre.
Literally at the end of the graveyard and across the road was one of the twin towers. And despite the devastation done to those buildings and many surrounding St Paul's did not get damaged at all. Which I think says something more profound than I have the ability to comment on, I'll leave that to people of faith. But even I thought that God moves in mysterious ways on this occasion.
So St Paul's became a place of refuge for the many construction workers and firefighters who worked round the clock in those first days trying to find anyone left alive in the aftermath of what had happened. It became a safe place, and slowly people from around America, especially children started sending drawings to help cheer these exhausted men up. They started to receive candy and soft toys.
So each night cots were set up inside this humble little Church for these men and under each pillow was a packet of candy and a bear. Almost as if by giving these men something of the safety of their childhoods they could help them face what they were facing day after day.
Last week I went to ground zero, there is nothing to see anymore it's a building site, but D did take me into this Church, and I carefully studied every piece of display, reading it with quietness and respect. Until I came to the bear tribute, then I could no longer stop my tears.
You may think I'm completely soppy or stupid, doesn't matter, I don't need your approval here. What I found was something that resonated with me back to the days of my early childhood and ever since. And I for one felt that if any of those roughty toughty men was able to make use of a friend in the night then maybe the world wasn't such a bad place to be in, when they were dealing with so much death and carnage during the day