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Savannah Hanson: Holy relationships

“In this world, God’s Son comes closest to himself in a holy relationship. … You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. Yet should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed … Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on Earth.” — A Course in Miracles.

Many of us place great value on our relationships. Yet they can also be the source of conflict and stress. To witness cherished relationships crumble can be one of life’s greatest tragedies. We may feel powerless to stop arguments and disagreements from dominating our most treasured connections.

Rev. Lani Howard of Sierra Center for Spiritual Living spoke of the value of relationships in her Easter service. She quoted a 75-year longitudinal study done from 1939 to 2014 to measure what were vital elements of health and well-being. The study found that relationships were the most important factor in determining long term health. The relationships did not need to be with a partner or a large group of friends; rather, it needed to be one in which people felt free to be authentic, accepted and loved even when they made “mistakes.” Not surprising, intimacy is vital to our health.


Yet western civilization is one in which, too often, intimacy and authentic relationships are sorely lacking. In “primitive” societies, it is not unusual for villages to help raise all the children, to provide support for all its members in sickness and other challenges. Here in the West, money can be what we turn to for support, buying the services we need. Connection can be what is lost in the transaction, a sense of mutual reciprocity. Then, hungry for friendship and affection, too many turn to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to feel the sense of community while hungering to be truly known. Suburbs can spread us out in our comfortable large homes while our hearts hunger for a sense of being seen and supported by a wider circle. I always yearned for a large loving family, yet my few friends who have numerous siblings report that while their families may provide support in a crisis, they do not feel seen or truly known by their families. The yearning still exist as they are not mirrored or understood by family members.


Eight years ago, I began having great conflict with a beloved family member. Her personality mimicked in some ways my most difficult relationship and was triggering me deeply. I felt my love for her begin to slip. Having lost so many other intimate relationships as my feelings faded, as conflict increased, I made a life-altering vow. I told the Mystery I would rather die then lose my devotion to this beloved. Yes, it was a tad melodramatic, yet is was a soul-altering oath. From that moment on, I was confronted with numerous triggers bringing my deepest wounds to the surface. Yet something had shifted internally as I learned to let each moment of suffering be an opportunity to send love to the aspect of myself that was in pain. Rather then focus on what this person was doing, I learned to integrate the aspect of self that had been lost in separation from my own heart. I recognized this choice dramatically impacted our relationship. Now, my relationship with this beloved is a dream come true and the embodiment of holy relationship. As an added bonus, once I integrated my own wounded split-off aspects, her behavior shifted dramatically and almost all of her qualities that challenged me evaporated! We can recognize those that push our buttons as our spiritual teachers honoring soul agreements to wake us up.


Perhaps even more importantly, I had to learn to come into holy relationship with myself. I had to accept and be at peace with myself, forgiving all my challenging aspects. To be in sacred relationship means to recognize self and other as sparks of the divine, to be willing to see the Universe within each being while also making peace with the human aspects of self that can be less than yummy. We learn to look past flawed personalities, past what people do as form, as bodies. Rather we see the holiness whether masked or not. We learn to bow to both aspects. Recognizing within ourself less-than-skillful behavior, it becomes easier to accept the unwise behavior of others. We can even learn to laugh as we or another does that same annoying habit for the 100th time. As laughing buddhas, we can smile at the absurdity of certain patterns we detect within and without.

For information on private sessions or classes or a free 20 minute consultation to see if this work will help you move into holy relationship, contact Savannah Hanson, M.A., MFT #40422 at (530) 575-5052 or savannah@raisedinlove.com

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