Pain is a Cosmic Force, and it Serves to Create
This majestic false-color image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the “mountains” where stars are born. These towering pillars of cool gas and dust are illuminated at their tips with light from warm embryonic stars. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Harvard-Smithsonian

(it really does, and if that sounds crazy, read on ….)

This has been an incredible summer for me, to put it mildly. Full of loss and cleansing and shifting …. and now, all kinds of wonderful, new things are emerging.

How are you? I hope you are doing well, and if you are one of the people who had a real time of it this summer, know that you are not alone …. and also, keep in mind that PAIN SERVES TO CREATE ….

I certainly had my share of pain, this summer. Of every type: emotional and spiritual/ existential during the time my mother was dying in June, and when she passed in my presence on July 3rd; physical emotional and existential pain when a strange birth defect that I knew nothing about emerged soon after my mother’s passing, requiring emergency surgery and the removal of a huge piece of my intestine; and more of a bit of everything, when I was challenged to undergo a major dental procedure, just a few weeks after my major abdominal surgery.

Even writing this out makes my hair stand on end! I can hardly believe that I have gone through all that – and all kinds of other trials regarding family of origin relationships and such – and am emerging not only intact, but more centered and joyful and grateful than ever before.

While I was going through all this I knew in my heart that I was being led through some important cleansing and shifting (I won’t go into the symbolism of all these “deaths” right now – my plan is to write about this over the next few weeks); but what kept me most in good stead was the question: “And what am I being called to create, from so much pain?!?!”.

This attitude, this way of looking at PAIN as a cosmic force that pushes us not only to be cleansed of our toxins and poisons – physical, psychological-emotional and spiritual – but to make new decisions to create love and beauty to the best of our ability, together with others one day at a time, has truly revolutionized my life over the last couple decades. I certainly saw how deeply it has shaped how I live today during the immense pain I experienced on every level over the last few months.

I am grateful every day to Antonio Mercurio for having introduced this new way of thinking, which is slightly different from thinking of pain as “just” being necessary for growth – because thinking of actually creating something from a painful experience is quite different from the idea of simply “growing”.

Even though our growth is good and important, creating something new means going a step further, and sharing that growth with Life and with others in a deliberate way. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities, and also of creative responsibility, which are amazingly transforming in themselves. Never before have I been so intensely aware of these subtle, but fundamental differences in this approach, and so grateful to all those forces that brought me to bump into this school of thought all those years ago, and decide to train and specialize in it so I could share it with others.

Never before have I been challenged like I was challenged this summer to hang on to the tiller of my deepest values, and navigate the storm to the best of my abilities, without giving in to the fear and  pain that was often shadowing my heart.

I am not saying that I have not had some really bad days, or still don’t have them, sometimes, as I am still dealing with some pain and limitations and conflicts. But when I remember that I am an Artist of my life, not a Victim, and I am learning every day new ways of loving and caring for myself and others and of receiving love, and am being called to practice this Fine Art of Living and Loving, even the bad days have a different feel to them.

When I tune in to the trust that all of this has a deep purpose for me, and is propelling me towards a new chapter in my life where I am now cleansed and liberated on many different levels, and therefore freer to create new Love and Beauty in my life and in the lives of others in an even more effective way, even the darkest fears and shadows cannot grip my soul or my psyche for too long.

And as the days have gone by, some of the New has begun to unfold around me, which is, of course, an expression of the New within me.

The most important is that I will be leaving for Italy on September 6th, and will be there for an entire month! I already had on my schedule the class I am teaching at the end of September for ISACA, the Institute in Puglia for which I am a Docent (and which I am twinned with, so as to share our strength and wisdom as we develop ourselves as Persons and Artists of our lives, and our training centers in Counseling in Existential Personalistic Anthropology and Cosmoartistic Anthropology); I teach at least one course per year for them, but usually do so at a distance, with videos and written materials and a Skype encounter with the classroom. 

The Greek-Roman Amphitheater in Lecce, Italy
The Greek-Roman Amphitheater in Lecce, Italy – I have not seen this yet, and definitely plan to go!

I had played around with the idea of actually trying to go, to be able to teach the class “live” in September, but was not sure I was going to be able to swing it, as I wanted to get my own training program up and running, and a trip outside the country just seemed like trying to pack in too much for me at once.

Instead, while recovering from my surgery, I realized that what I really needed was to go back to my “other home”, Southern Italy, where I lived for 24 years, and where I began my life as a counselor in Existential Personalistic Anthropology/ Cosmoartistic Anthropology. I have not been back since I moved back to my “first home” here in Wisconsin in 2006 …. and during those days of deep reflection (nothing like almost losing your life to make you get in touch with what is really important!) I knew the time had come for me to go back.

As I began to put together the plans for my trip, I received another invitation to teach my class; this time at the IPAE in Cosenza, which is where I did all my education and training and began my personal path of self-discovery and development, 25 years ago! I was absolutely thrilled, and of course accepted the invitation with immense gratitude and joy.

A view of the statue of Bernardino Telesio - a famous Renaissance Philosopher and Theologian from Cosenza - with the Swabian Castle in the background
A view of the statue of Bernardino Telesio – a famous Renaissance Philosopher and Theologian from Cosenza – with the Swabian Castle in the background.

This is all bringing me deeply in touch with another aspect of the concept of Pain as a Cosmic Force that Serves to Create, and that is that this type of creation is something that is possible only through interaction with others.

In Cosmoartistic Anthropology, Choral Energy is the energy created when two or more people decide to evolve and create together, following the Organismic Principle, which helps us see how deeply interconnected we all are, and how important it is for us each to become Persons capable of loving and expressing ourselves as unique individuals, so we can contribute that uniqueness to the purposes of a larger creation, possible only when two or more come together.

When two or more people choose to participate in the creation of Choral Energy following the Organismic Principle – and this can happen in couples, friendships, families, business and educational and creative groups of all kinds – real Magic can happen! Many of us already experience this on some levels, in our personal or work lives, even though we may not use this language to describe it, or have a real awareness that that is what we are doing.

I personally believe that all of us, as human beings, have this deep desire within us – to become Individuals, capable of developing our own Truth, Love, Beauty and Freedom so that we can then contribute it to the development of the whole we are all a part of – but we are not necessarily aware of it. Often times our greatest suffering, alienation and violence towards ourselves and others arise from our feeling cut off and disconnected, from our deepest Selves and from others, but it is exactly this existential pain that can become the motor we need to search out new ways of thinking, acting and living, that can lead us forward to more deeply satisfying lives.

I know that this was the case for me – it was my feeling of being completely alone and cut off and surrounded by role models that simply did not convince me, either in my personal sphere or in the educational/professional sphere, that drove me to search and search, until I found a “home” where I could finally develop the values that were whispering to me ….  all the way over in Southern Italy, of all places (and I have been asked many times to write of how I got there …. it could be that when I go back now, I will finally have the time and the right state of mind and spirit to do so …).

And here I am now, more than 30 years later, and going back to the land of my spiritual roots and first blossoms …. after having been completely focused on sorting out other aspects of my life, here in the land I was born and raised in, for the last 10 years.

I can sense that this is possible thanks to the kind of Choral Energies I today am a part of – my family comprising of my fiancé Jim and our wonderful children Sara, Francesco, Courtney and Alec; the projects I am a part of with my colleagues and collaborators in Italy, first and foremost Antonio and Paola Mercurio and the Sophia University of Rome and all the Centers and Institutes affiliated with it; Bruno Bonvecchi and Ombretta Ciapini of the IPAE in Cosenza, my first Teachers, as well as all of their Staff and students; Daniele Gabriele and Anna De Nitto of ISACA in Puglia, along with all their  Counselors and students; and last but not least, all my wonderful clients, supporters, colleagues and friends here in the US , who have so enriched my life and have enriched me in more ways than I could even begin to describe.

All of this exquisite Choral Energy is now carrying me forward into new levels of creativity and expression, while also asking me to become ever more clear about how to take good care of myself.

Choral Energy requires the presence and participation of Persons – those capable of loving themselves, loving others and receiving love; and while it has its own characteristics that make it unique, it is not a type of group that wants its members to conform to a specific mold, as so many human groups tend to do.

Synthesizing opposites of this type – love and freedom, service and self-care, autonomy and interdependence, etc. etc. etc. – requires a profound decision and willingness to try, and try again and again, as Artists, who painstakingly work at their individual and choral masterpieces, day after day, correcting their mistakes as best as possible, so they can bring forth the greatest beauty they are capable of creating.


But while this does require some sacrifice for the individual – because when we work consciously together in groups, we are called to let go of many things, and cleanse ourselves of some of those poisons which most keep us from our common goal (such as our self-righteous pride, our envy and comparison with others, our greedy wanting more than our share of attention or resources, to just mention a few …. all things that we all are subject to, whether we are aware of it or not, and must be willing to look at, if we are to truly become capable of creating together) – it also means that as individuals we can access levels of sustaining and supportive energy that we simply cannot produce by ourselves.

As I was pondering whether it was wise for me to hop on a plane only a few weeks after having had major surgery, I realized (after getting the O.K. from the surgeon) that while on one level the invitations I had received to teach were opportunities to share with others some of the knowledge and wisdom I have gained over the years, they are also wonderful possibilities to connect with members of my “spiritual family”, and be nurtured by them, and reinforce our bonds while we have the opportunity to discuss and develop in person our mutual creative projects and goals.

Also, as I am planning on offering a full training program here in Existential Personalistic Anthropology and Cosmoartistic Anthropology, it will be really wonderful for me to reinforce my connections with those who already have fully functioning Centers and Institutes. From them I can receive guidance, ideas, and support, to finish putting together the Curriculum I will be offering, while also setting the stage for future collaborations.

This, indeed, is how Choral Energy works – we contribute to it, and we receive from it, just as the organs in the human body all give and receive to and from each other, to collaborate in the great work of art that is human life.

It is in this spirit that I am packing my bags and readying myself to go back to my “other home” after so long: with great joy, with a new and deeper sense of humility – because as I said before there is nothing like death, both when we lose someone dear to us and we are faced with it ourselves, to bring home to us what is truly important – and also with the clear intention to fill my tanks, so I can share all of the wonderful things I will be experiencing and receiving with others when I come back.

I also plan on doing some writing, and hopefully will be posting pictures and such along the way – if you want to travel with me, and virtually benefit from the Choral Energy I will be participating in, go to my Facebook page and like it  (click here) ! I am not great with posting on social media, but I am going to give it a try !

I will also be more than happy to interact with you there, with questions and comments you may about my travels or the work in general

I also want everyone to know that I will be continuing to work at a distance with individual clients via phone (there are simple apps you can use that are free to use and that I can explain to you – all you need is a computer and/or a smart phone); therefore, if you are wanting to work with me even while I am gone, don’t hesitate to contact me and we can set up an appointment.

My best to all and thank you for being in my life, and for inviting me into yours!

Martha's Signature

Optimized-Jonathan Headshots-46