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Crumbling Into Wholeness

“Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.

You’ve been stony for too many years. Try something different. Surrender.”

- Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks -

After my sister and her husband separated, she began collecting heart-shaped stones on her daily, indispensable walks. There was no plan and very little communication between the two of them. As the pile of stones grew next to the front door they had shared for many years, they both entered an individual time of darkness and introspection. Their stony stories began to crumble. They sought out counseling, support, and spiritual sustenance and never let up on those indispensable walks. They began speaking of difficult subjects, raged and cried and almost gave up.

Yet something had softened from the crumbling. And in that fertile, fragile newness came a healing that to this day they protect and strengthen as a daily practice, holding the past while living in the present, and thus, fully embracing each other’s quirks, imperfections, and the long-ago altar of stones.

Our marriage to this known world is crumbling. We are in a world-wide pandemic amidst drastic environmental changes, with daily exhibitions of hubris and naked economic greed by some governments that literally see people as expendable. At the same time there are governments acting with calming empathy and intelligence to embrace their people’s welfare as their foremost responsibility.

It may feel we are a hair’s breadth from the abyss of an unknown future. We are. It will be uncomfortable, this change, with much letting go of our own stony stories. As Viktor Frankl wrote, one thing is left for a person after the old ways are gone . . . ”the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Try something different. Surrender. Allow the tears to fall. Let the weight of gloom take you to your bed for a day. Remember the words “I’m sorry” after being snippy to your partner when underneath the sharp words what you really want is a hug. In the discomfort, feel the emotions soften. Know your strong ancestors live within you; they too knew the ocean of grief, life-altering situations, and intense moods. Their stories of survival and innovation and kindness are swirling in your consciousness.


Be lush soil for the wildflowers of clarity, compassion, creativity, and new choices that are waiting to grow within you. They will be wildflowers never seen before, and their bouquet will ripple out to your loved ones, your friends, your community, the world.

Look for heart-shaped stones and other symbols of transformation. Make your own altar to love, to those who have died and are sick, to their families, to your present situation, the as-yet unimagined future. Walk, run, or move in the fresh air as best you can and look up at the immensity of the sky. Breathe. Live in a way that allows others to also live. In wholeness. Together.


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