Not long ago I was speaking with one of my most trusted friends, who has entered a rough stretch in his life. He hasn’t worked full-time at his chosen profession for a number of years, and has been trying to find a new creative outlet that would provide him with a sense of purpose and place. He has a reasonably comfortable material life, and a healthy “support network” of wife, friends and friends to whom he can turn for emotional reinforcement. But he feels something missing “internally” within himself—that emotional “spark” that inspires our creativity, and that in turn makes us excited to be alive—and this has left him feeling spiritually adrift.
In this condition, my friend is hardly alone. Many people today are experiencing a kind of existential alienation and dread in their lives. I see it myself in my daily walk, and have even felt its numbing effects on my own psyche at times. And it is not difficult to understand why—with so many signs of human civilization in a state of rapid decline, we are all living in a pessimistic age, and this helps to explain much of the social unrest and uncertainty that seem to be sweeping the planet right now.
So this morning, I varied my usual Tarot routine by devoting my meditative energies to my friend-in-need, “vibrating” positive energies in his direction. Shuffling the deck a few times, I turned over the top card:
As is implied by its imagery, traditional meanings of this card revolve around “love,” “friendship,” “marriage” and the like. But it can also be a card of “healing” and “compassion.” Here, the young man in the card literally “reaches out” to a woman who is dressed as a physician or nurse (i.e., a healer), and in so doing, he finds completion in love as signified by the sign of the caduceus (ancient symbol of medicine) and by the winged bull above him (sexual energy uplifted by spirituality). But the healing in this case comes not entirely from the healer—by herself, she is powerless, but when called upon by the seeker for help or compassion, she becomes the agent through which we activate the powers of inner healing that we senselessly guard within our psyches like a jealous lover. In our own lives, there are people who can help us unlock those powers of healing—therapists and analysts, priests and rabbis, even friends and family members. But whomever we consult, we need to reach out, and initiate the dialogue when we are feeling lost in the world. Even the wisest teachers need remedial education at times, and there is no shame in admitting that we are ever in need some some helpful spiritual guidance. One day, after all, that very same favor may be asked from us, so it is for the ultimate good of the universe for us to examine and reflect on our own wounded psyches, that we might better share the power of healing with others. The Talmud teaches that “he who practices humility will be lifted on high.” Likewise let us admit, then, to our fears and apprehensions when they manifest themselves, and seek compassion and healing—for in so doing, we actually unleash our mightiest spiritual strengths, and help to heal the world.