I have never been someone that has been drawn to being a devotee to any one person or spiritual philosophy. While I have been repeatedly blessed to recognize the right teacher/teaching at the right time in my sacred emergence, I have always made the distinction between the messengers and the message being delivered. I fully embrace that while I might be drawn to the delivery of a certain teacher, it is up to me to won and to integrate the teaching. I do have a deep and abiding appreciation for those beings that have made the choice to stand up and to boldly share the insights that they have been given to them to share with the world. I seem to be particularly drawn to “unlikely candidates” as ambassadors of Truth. I relate strongly to the hero archetype, and so the voices I most readily hear are from those who have known the darkness, and have come to embody the Light. These teachers have “a past.” They are not mountain sitters or navel gazers. They have known the depths of hell and have climbed steadily and often clumsily from there to the heights of heaven.
One such teacher left the planet this week and left behind her a profound wake of liberating and integrative truth. I met Debbie Ford for the first time a number of years ago, and in her words I found a way to frame the feelings that had been stirring inarticulately within me. In her teachings I discovered a missing link that had left me confused and bereft and divided against myself. Debbie was considered by many to be the premier teacher of shadow work for our generation. She was stunning in her authenticity and transparency, and that was what for me made her teachings so accessible. She didn’t teach theory. She used her own painful and addictive past to map the way out for thousands of other seekers. She didn’t pretend to be perfect. She didn’t lead from pretense. She courageously shared her stories and her Truth and she relentlessly stood with others as they scaled the depths of their own forbidden internal landscapes.
Debbie was not afraid of the dark, her own or anyone else’s. She did not deny the darkness in this world or the unconsciousness and unskillfulness of the human condition. She was unshakable, however, in her thesis that there is an inherent gift in any and every aspect of our personality self. By reclaiming and embracing what we have suppressed and projected we will find the way to freedom and unspeakable joy. Our greatest darkness will be the ground of our greatest gifts. Debbie Ford not only taught this, she lived it. Her books shared fearlessly of how by coming to know the parts of herself she least wanted to see she became available to be a voice of Light and Truth in this country and around the world. Her Shadow Workshops were attended by literally thousands, and I can tell you from personal experience that it was nothing short of life changing. Debbie’s transcendence of her own past has made an immeasurable contribution to my life. While I am supremely sad that she is gone, I know her voice will continue to speak in me and to countless others as her legacy continues to uplift all that are drawn to her work.
I feel within my own relationship to Debbie’s death a call to step forward and to give my own greatest gifts with more passion and less reserve. I honor the transparency in her because it is a core value within me. I feel even more determined to let my past be used in service of something greater than just the story of my woundedness. As a teacher I know that my greatest example of Truth is what it has done in my own life. I have been there too. I have known a darkness so profound that the only way out was through. I know what hell is like, and I have an uncanny ability to describe it while sitting in the consciousness of heaven. I feel driven to be authentic and whole rather than good and pristine. I am fully human even as I am freely Divine. I have a shadow and I am the Light. And I am saying yes to the call to spend the remainder of my days being a voice that is loud and strong enough that those in need of its message can find their way to me. In order to accomplish that I need all of me: ALL OF ME. I am embracing the totality of my experience in order that my life may be a beacon to those still lost in mire of the ego trance.
And so I celebrate this day the legacy of Debbie Ford. I thank her for all she contributed to my life, and for being the voice I needed to hear at the time I needed to hear it. And I gladly accept the torch of those who have gone before me, and yet continue to be my own unique voice for Truth. It humbles me to think that I may have a fraction of the impact Debbie had simply by showing up as my transparent and authentic self.
Thanks, Debbie. You indeed defied gravity.