Sunday , 20 May 2018

Hope and the Tao of Pooh

A client visited Community Lifeline Center in need of assistance with her rent and utility bills. A female veteran, she was working in her first civilian job after 20 years in the Air Force. She’s 43 years old and trying, for the first time, to understand life outside military regimen; her income was average, but her monthly expenses were overwhelming. Loans, credit cards, and overall debt were so massive that the constant weight of worry was wearing her down.

She visited Community Lifeline Center largely because every other organization she’d contacted for help turned her away.  What she needed was some help what she brought with her was a lot of resentment, and a load of attitude.

Which brings us to the 100- acre wood, and Winnie- the -Pooh.

Oh, and know, as a matter of full disclosure, that some of this is borrowed from Benjamin Hoff’s book The Tao of Pooh. Hoff makes the point that Winnie- the- Pooh is the “…very epitome of P’U – the Uncarved Block.” One of the basic principles of Taoism, the Uncarved Block holds that things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power – power that is easily spoiled or lost when that simplicity is changed. Arrogance, complexity, contrivance, hopelessness all get in the way of original simplicity.  The arrogance of Owl’s pursuit of knowledge for the sake of appearing wise is an example of spoiling original simplicity as Eyore’s knowledge for the sake of complaining about things. Hoff points out that “The wise know their limitations, the foolish do not.” He believes Tigger is a perfect example of one who doesn’t know his limitations, while Piglet does. We are reminded that we need to recognize and trust our own inner nature, and not lose sight of it.

And, that is what drives the kinds of support Community Lifeline Center provides: knowing that if people can be given a shoulder to lean on, a compass to guide them, and short term provisions to sustain them, they can get from Point A to Point B.  Community Lifeline Center stays focused on de-mystifying crises. As a result, even where solutions might be hard to find, no one is ever turned away, because systems, processes, or assumptions never get in the way of looking for creative solutions. Habit never gets in the way of hope. Community Lifeline Center doesn’t make it easy for people to stay where they are: it provides the tools to help them move forward.

Recently a veteran who couldn’t find help, found hope at Community Lifeline Center. She arrived with her defenses up, ready for a fight, She had no family support system, and had never learned the basics of truly independent living. She had lost the simplicity of life, and had allowed fear, confusion and resentment to take over. After meeting with her case manager, she began to rediscover life: first, a tear – quickly wiped away;  then, one word answers– after an hour or so – became sentences. She began talking crying, laughing, joyful, and relieved. She completed a plan for self-sufficiency, and may qualify for up to 3 month’s assistance from the Texas Veterans Commission grant to Community Lifeline Center. She is getting assistance with rent and electric, as well as getting one on one financial counseling, and individual sessions with a psychiatrist. She is on her way to becoming independent and self sufficient.

Which brings us to the most important principle of the Uncarved Block. When we get rid of the things that complicate original simplicity, we discover the simple, childlike and mysterious secret known to some: life is good.  And that’s why no one is turned away from Community Lifeline Center: lifting the burden from those in crisis, helps them rediscover that life is, indeed, good. 

The Community Lifeline Center services McKinney and north Collin County residents through short-term crisis support and assitance. 

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