HEALTH: Handling life’s conflicts and paradoxes

Catherine Fenske
Free Press Health Columnist
Catherine Fenske
Staff Photo |

“As one matures in spiritual life, one becomes more comfortable with paradox, more appreciative of life’s ambiguities, its many levels and inherent conflicts. One develops a sense of life’s ironies, metaphor and humor and a capacity to embrace the whole, with its beauty and outrageousness, in the graciousness of the heart.”

— Jack Kornfield

Are you able to see the humor in the things that might not make sense to you in the moment? Can you embrace all things that come at you with a generosity of spirit, or as in Jack Kornfield’s words with a “graciousness of the heart?” How do you handle life’s ambiguities, its inherent conflicts and paradoxes?

As Mr. Kornfield suggests, as we become more mature in our spiritual life we become more comfortable with all of the seemingly non-sensical, irrational circumstances and events in our life. We may view them as a sort of “cosmic joke” and find humor in the Universe for presenting us with the outrageousness of life’s ironies. This is when we understand that we are maturing spiritually. This is when life really begins.

How do we become spacious enough to grow into this spiritual maturity? We become aware of how much we don’t know and how much we will probably never know about the great mystery of life and be OK with that. We open up to everything in our experience — the beauty and the not so beautiful, our strengths and our weaknesses, the “good and the “bad,” the mundane and the spectacular, the knowing and the unknowing, the real and the illusion, the ups and the downs, the blocks and the flows.

Walks in nature help us open up to these paradoxes of life. In nature we see everything as it is. Some vegetation thrives and some is dying, some animals are beautiful and some not so beautiful, some days are sunny and some are cloudy and gloomy. Nature allows itself to just be in spite of the inherent conflicts that abound in it. It doesn’t get all wrapped up in the “whys.” It just is.

Make a commitment to not question and try to analyze everything and have to know “but why” all the time. Allow yourself to go to that place that you can’t know everything. It’s not necessary to know everything and you will never know everything. Allow yourself to be comfortable with the idea that there are Universal Laws and Principles at play always. You can learn these Laws and Principles and how they work in your life, but you can never know why they do. You can learn to just trust them and not question why.

Practice laughing at yourself and taking yourself less seriously. Practice seeing the metaphors and the ironies in your life. Don’t try to make sense of everything and aim toward just enjoying the beautiful mystery of life. Make the space for the beauty in every thing, every situation, and every person. Embrace it all as the whole of life, knowing that you and everyone else is a part of this whole and everything comes to you as a teacher.

I encourage you this week to stand in the generosity of your spirit, in the “graciousness of your heart” and embrace the whole of life as you continue to mature spiritually. Laugh at yourself and the absurdities of life. Create the spaciousness within to hold life as the precious gift that it is. Be ever in gratitude for all your experiences because without them your soul and consciousness would never evolve.

Catherine Fenske is the owner of Live With Intention Coaching. She is spiritual counselor/teacher, certified life coach, Reiki master/teacher. Catherine can be reached at 970-640-6987 or email at Visit or her blog at

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