It was 1992. Four years had lapsed since my daughter Katie’s diagnosis of a brain tumor. She was now healthy and back working in New York City. Because my maternal stress levels were greatly relaxed, my professional dreams began to reemerge. It was time to think about making them come true.
Both my dreams and my interests had become undeniably centered on the concepts developed by psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung because I realized, in hindsight, I had been living an archetypal experience during the trauma of Katie’s illness. I realized also that while I was not the first mother to have been frightened by her child’s cancer, I needed to discover some meaning in it all and quench my thirst for understanding my time of monumental stress. I also had a burning desire to explore Jung’s concepts of archetypes, dreams, the anima, the animus, the collective unconscious, synchronicity, the shadow, complex theory and other topics he developed. And, I wanted to study where Dr. Jung developed his theories. Yes, my psychic pathways for studious wanderlust beckoned. I had no doubt that I needed to honor this dream.
Down the stairs I came that night of awakening, eager to share this new revelation with my husband, St. Richard. “I’ve been called to Switzerland,” I announced with an ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila swooning with awareness. Responding with his normal sincerity and humor that I often write about, he said, “Tonight?”
Three days later I registered for my program of study dealing with the symbolic world and depth psychology. Ninety-one people from the world over would become my classmates at The Jung Institute. The program I signed up for would be held in Kusnacht, Switzerland, right on Lake Zurich, Jung’s hometown for many years.
Several months later, as a parent would attach little mittens, my husband handed me my passport and boarding pass, kissed me goodbye and said, “You’ll be all right.” “I would?” I thought. I didn’t speak German, I’d never been away more than two days without him – never mind to Europe by myself – and what in God’s holy name was I doing? When the plane soared into the night sky I quietly wiped away a few nervous tears.
Hours later, looking out the window on the chain of Swiss Alps snaking across the earth below, I gasped at their beauty and magnificence. Here in Switzerland I would begin a pilgrimage. Here in Switzerland I would feed my spirit and share experiences with others who would teach me and whom I would teach. Here in Switzerland I would learn first-hand the nature and importance of one of Jung’s most profound concepts: individuation which is to understand the psychological process that makes a person an individual.
On the last day of the program I rode the train with a small group of seven newly formed friends to see Jung’s summer cottage. There at Bollingen we held one another’s hands and sang “Amazing Grace” because each of us had come to Switzerland to find something extraordinary and each of us did: we found the miracle in the mystery. We found the joy in personal pursuit. We found the guaranteed blessing that is the ultimate reward whenever we take the time to follow our dream and Make Every Day Matter.Tags: grief, hope