Use Your Wings and Fly (Part 1)

About cancer cells and entropy

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.

(Rumi)

Nice to read Rumi’s words when I see myself living as flying over an ocean of possibilities. Hard to believe these words in moments of despair, when I see myself crawling through my life. Am I born with potential? Probably, but who’s really interested in it and where can I realise it? Am I born with goodness and trust? Not everyone is always equally sure about that, including myself. Am I born with ideals and dreams? Yes, for sure, but are they leading or misleading me? Am I born with greatness? Wish I could believe it and live it. Am I born with wings? I cherish the memories of flying, sometimes more freely than at other times. It all depends on the oil on my wings. Learning to use them is also about getting rid of the oil on my wings to fly fully and freely.

How does that sound for you? Does it make sense? How do you want to live you life? Crawling like a caterpillar of flying like a butterfly? Do you like stories, even when your life isn’t a fairytale? I would love to tell you the story of the caterpillar and the butterfly. I’m always touched by the way this story touches people, with a bright light or with tears in their eyes. The story became mine because it is part of my life story. If you are looking for key clues for more life, if you want to get within reach how you really want to live, keep on reading, keep on listening and make the story of the caterpillar and butterfly yours. Because it is truth: You are born with wings and you are not meant for crawling. So don’t.

The story of the caterpillar and the butterfly is part of a bigger story, part of my life story. Let us go seven years back in time. What do you remember of your own life seven years ago? Where and with who did you live? How did your life look like? Do you also recognize cycles of seven years in your life?

Seven years ago, I found myself completely lost. As I had never really felt at home in my childhood with my parents, creating a home for my own children was priority number one in my life. A place where they could feel at home and that meant to me: a place where they could feel seen, heard, understood, loved and safe. No blame to my parents, they did their best in their own way and with the best intentions they saw, heard and loved me as they did. But I didn’t feel seen, heard, loved and not at all understood. So my experience was not aligned with their intentions.

Imagine my happiness when I married and became a blessed father of six children. I’m not a fan of tattoos on my body, but I cherish the six tattoos on my soul. Being parent became an additional full time job: I felt co-CEO of my own family organisation. The thread running through my life became: how to create a warm and safe space to grow and evolve, so that they all six could feel at home. I wanted them to feel seen, heard, understood, loved and safe at home. And that’s what I did until nine years ago.

Imagine my despair and my dejection when the mother of my children chose for another man. I thought she was the love of my life, and without her, there was no life. The light of my life was switched off and I lost all feeling at home with my children. I felt as an unjust and undeserved victim of the situation, and people around me pushed me deeper into that role. I was a caterpillar under the ground, and that’s where I wanted to be: disappearing from everything and everybody.

That’s why I found myself completely lost seven years ago. My life was limited to a struggle for survival and my future had lost all perspectives, when I went with my daughter to an ophthalmologist. She needed glasses for at school and I thought I needed firmer lenses in my glasses to look sharp again. It turned out that I was becoming blind. I had lost all detail view in my left eye. After an immediate referral to the hospital, a massive tumour was found to press the optic nerve.

Now I know that not every tumour in the head is a brain tumour and not every tumour is cancerous and deadly. But in the shock of the unexpected diagnosis, I felt my head and my whole body affected by cancer. An urgent and delicate surgery was postponed for practical reasons with the operating theater and ultimatly never happened. An endocrinologist wanted to give it a chance with a medication treatment on my request and my biggest save came from friends who literally dropped me for a second opinion in the waiting room of what they called ‘a special doctor, but the best one in Belgium’.

He didn’t know anything about my personal family situation. He looked at the reports of the ophthalmologist and the hospital and he asked me: “What is going on in your life that you don’t want to see? What is making you blind? And what is the benefit for you to be blind?” I was without words and kept on looking at him with my right eye left. The shock of the diagnosis was a shock in my whole system, but mainly in the head. This doctor with his questions was touching my heart, in a clear but gentle way.

He continued: “You have four things to do to heal: seeing, accepting, forgiving and restoring. When you do that, you will be healthy and whole again, and the tumour won’t have any reason to be there anymore.” That was the start of a double healing process: curing tumour and divorce. I had to become half blind to see what was really going on in my life. That day in April in Brussels, seven years ago, with that special doctor, changed my life because that day, I started looking in a different way at myself and my life.

Funny detail: unwittingly he also gave me an extra book as gift, a very inspiring book that I enjoyed reading in my healing time afterwards. In the waiting room of the doctor was a kind of fascinating mosaic tree full of birds and with the strange title: ‘Conference of Birds’. I took a photo of it and found out that it is the name of a masterpiece of Attar, also a Sufi poet like Rumi. A group of birds of the world want to find out who could be their king. They travel through the desert with all kinds of trials and challenges to meet a mythical king bird and when they finally reach the dwelling place, … no you should read the book by yourself if you want to know it.

Seeing, accepting forgiving, restoring: it’s an ongoing process, still. With these four words as mantra, everything started resonating on a different level. Interesting to see how it added a new dimension to my life. All the healing work started to transform my life. I had no choice. If the healing process is based on the life pattern that made you sick, than you’re not really healing, only fighting the symptoms. Now looking back on these years, I feel gratefull for my journey, but I couldn’t see it like that when I was in the middle of that dark and heavy struggle of survival.

First SEEING. You see what you want to see and you don’t see what you don’t want to see. You see with your eyes coloured by your opinions and beliefs. That creates your experience. Einsteins prime question was: “Is the universe a friendly place?” If you see your world as a friendly place, you create a connecting energy in your daily life and it will colour your thoughts and feelings, your words and behaviour. If you see your world as an unfriendly place, your fear based energy will create more separation and loneliness.

I grew up with the belief: ‘first seeing, then believing’. During my healing process I experienced that the opposite is even more truth: ‘first believing, then seeing’. When you believe in something, you can see it. When you believe in possibilities, you can see them clearer and make them possible. When you keep on believing in problems, you will also see them clearer and bigger and you will end up by creating them. It might sound strange to say, but that is how we all create our own reality.

First seeing, next ACCEPTING. Being seen by yourself in a first step. Being accepted by yourself goes further. How can you accept others if you are not able to accept yourself? Acceptance means: the courage to say yes to what is, with loving eyes, open heart and mind in peace. The opposite is saying no with a discouraging resistance, with frustrated eyes, closed heart and mind in war. Acceptance creates serenity and connection. Resistance creates stress and separation. Maybe you need sometimes some stress and separation to come to serenity and connection. I remember from my teacher of physics a law of electricity: no ligth without resistance.

On one of her relationship courses, Gita Bellin asked: “What is the opposite of love?” People started answering: “Fear, anger, hate, indifference, …” Gita kept on looking around, and after a long silence, her words of wisdom filled the space: “The opposite of love is judgment. Love means: no judgment.” This goes a step further than acceptance. Loving somebody means: without any judgments. Loving yourself means: not judging yourself. And not even judging the fact that you judge. This has been and is still so liberating for myself and my connections with others. From the moment I start judging something or somebody, I can feel a shift in the energy of my system.

Resistance and judgment create upsets. Acceptance is a way to release your emotions. That’s how Richard Barrett describes it. Every event is neutral. You give it all the meaning it has for you through your beliefs. Everything is always perfect: it either feels good or painful. Pain is a gift. It’s a signal from your energy field that you are out of alignment. There is work to do. And problems are opportunities in disguise. They represent fears. Once identified, you have an opportunity to overcome your fears.

First seeing, next accepting, then FORGIVING. This was a hard one. I’ve been a teacher of religious education for more than 20 years, I’ve been teaching about forgiveness, and suddenly I discovered that I was not able to forgive. And there was nobody to ask for forgiveness. What did I have to let go to allow myself to forgive myself? I like Willem Glaudeman’s description: forgiveness is letting go the hope of a better past. That also meant to me: letting go the feeling and perception of being victim of my situation.

Without forgiveness, there is no life. How can you fully live in connection with the present while having so many negative emotions of the past as a millstone around your neck, as oil on your wings? Through family constellation work, I went back to the source, to my family of origin. It felt more like: letting go what didn’t belong to me. Honouring my parents and at the same time emptying my backpack with all the emotional stuff that belonged to them, not to me. These are the words of honour that I heard whispering in my heart during a constellation:

Dear father, I honour life as it lives, all-inclusive, for the full price it cost you and it still costs you, for the full price it costed me and it still costs me. Nothing has been in vain. You are the right father for me, and I’m the right child for you. I’m glad you chose my mother. You are the right parents for me. Only you.

First seeing, next accepting, then forgiving, finally RESTORING. Healing is not just eliminating what is called wrong and bad, but also looking at the bigger story. Restoring became for me: remembering who I really am, and why I am here. Giving a meaning and finding a purpose for my life and everything that happens in my life. Restoring is remembering your wholeness by connecting with all the divided and fragmented parts of yourself.

To create more trust in a group, I dare to ask: “Tell me the story of your scars. You can limit your story to the scars you’re proud of.” Beautiful to see what happens with the energy of a group if people can share deeply personal stories. Scars are more than traces of restoring in the past. They also show especially how you have cared for the wound, how you dealt with it. There are also emotional psychological scars, invisible, but at least as strongly felt. I call them soul scratches. A group needs a higher level of trust to share about these scars.

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