Temper to Tempered by Cylvia Hayes


Tempering is a process used to toughen steel and glass.  It involves applying intense heat.  With steel the tempering process is done after the steel has been hardened.   The metal is heated to just below a critical point and then allowed to cool in still air.  This reduces hardness, increasing the ability to absorb energy and stress without fracturing.
Tempering glass requires putting the outer surfaces into compression and the inner surfaces into tension. This causes the glass, when broken, to crumble into small chunks instead of splintering into jagged shards.  These crumbly chunks don’t cut and slice like sharp splinters from glass that hasn’t yet been traumatized.
I have thought of this process of strengthening by fire many times these very challenging past fifteen months as I’ve moved through being publically shamed and personally shattered. 
For me anger, even rage, is easier than hurt and neediness.  I was raised to view a hot temper as a sign of strength.  So many times over these past months I raged and wanted to hit back.  But for the first time in my life I was in a position where that just wasn’t possible.  Unable to vent, unable to harness the diversion of attacking my attackers, I was forced to live intimately with the pain and the powerlessness. 
My ego clawed and snarled, then tried to hide in dark corners like a terrorized, caged wild animal.  My mind leaped and bucked, flapped and flailed tearing free of the lashings I tried to bind it with.
Gradually, through reflection, meditation, prayer, care from some wonderful friends old and new, and the healing power of Nature I regained my balance.
In that stripped place I learned things I didn’t know I didn’t know.  I touched God, that inner Spirit, the I Am, in ways I hadn’t known were possible.  Sitting in the puddle of my pain, amazingly I found pools of deep tranquility.  In surrender to my weakness I found strength I’d never known.
Like tempered glass I shattered.  Spirit and loved ones helped sweep up the pieces.  In the cauldron of facing my Self the crystalline crumbles melted, fused back together, molten. 
Now I can feel the reshaping, being molded and blown, new pigments added.  I can’t yet see the final pattern but I catch glimpses of radiant light through bright stained panes and facets. 
Like many who go through intensely painful ordeals, my soul, psyche and personality has burned in the refining fire.  Being hardened and then reclaiming my softness is tempering me like glass.  And like steel. 
Cylvia Hayes
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