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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck on How to Stay Sane When the World is Not

Jul 29, 2022 09:31AM ● By Martin Miron

Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck is a professional counselor and spiritual director specializing in childhood trauma, couples/family, religious injury, issues instigated by life in a patriarchy. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Professional Psychology from Geneva College, in Beaver Falls, and a Master of Arts degree in Religion, as well as certification in spiritual direction from the Shalem Institute, in Washington, D.C. She serves as a board member and secretary of the nonprofit Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness and as a board member of the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network.

For her entire adult life, she has been working in fields of counseling, ministry, education and formation. She cares about doing the hard work that will cause less unnecessary pain to others in the world, while dealing with our own pains so we can live more freely in our own skin, and move closer to becoming the beings we truly are.

Clatterbuck sees the work of healing and formation as the work of what it means to be human. It begins as we learn to listen to what is going on in our inner life, what is happening in our heart and in our head. She believes that nature and the natural world can provide space for healing and awareness., and that being seen in space that is safe and accepting can provide salve to wounds and empower us to continue the work of becoming.

A meme came across my feed the other day. The picture is of a field with a man in the foreground. In the background, there is fire and smoke and destruction, and a caption, “The world right now.” The man in front is working his garden, and the caption reads, “Me still tending my silly little garden to stay sane.” I haven’t been able to get the image, or the sentiment, out of my head. It’s really quite brilliant.

What message do you glean from that experience?

Every day we are bombarded with news of more children killed in schools, of our politicians verbally attacking one another, of new laws that ban books or legalize discrimination, and journalists that don’t report the truth. Inflation is so high that even our middle class are struggling to survive. There are reasons to be overwhelmed and exhausted.

How can we respond to all this in a positive way?

It is important for all of us to find ways to cope. Some of what is going on we cannot change, and that is why I like the image in the meme so much. I have no platform to change the big issues of the world, but I have this plot of land. I can grow my own food. Working the earth feeds not only my soul, it also feeds my body. Now I know that not everyone has the capability or interest in gardening, and yet the idea transfers to other activities.

In what way does this translate for the rest of us?

In this world of tough times, we need to find ways to cope. To find beauty around us. To cultivate ways to keep our minds and hearts balanced. We need to develop skills to endure. To make it through. Networks of friends. Practices of mindfulness and breathing that help with our anxiety. Activities and rituals that allow us to see the beauty that still exists around us in the world and in the people we know and love. Sometimes escaping into a good book restores the soul to hope. Sometimes having coffee with friends gives us joy. And sometimes we may need to find a professional who can listen to our heart’s hurts and walk with us for a part of our journey. Yes, the world continues to be challenging. We cannot escape that truth—ask, “What is my 'garden' that I can tend to keep me grounded and sane?”

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