I have often found one of the difficult aspects of running a spiritual group is dealing with what I tend to refer to as the spiritual decline of some of the members.
While there maybe many different reasons that something like this happens, it’s extremely difficult to know how to handle the situation.
It becomes even more difficult when other group members start coming to you and point out that you aren’t the only one who has noticed that a member or two seems to be taking steps backwards in their spirituality instead of forwards. It’s disheartening when other group members leave the group because of it.
Sometimes a step back is necessary, so one can get a better view of where they stand, but what do you do when those backwards steps continue? It’s not to get a better view, in fact it seems they have turned their head and are now looking in a completely opposite direction?
When those steps backwards go from equal rights for all to privileges for the few, from knowledgeable informed decisions to believing and spreading rumors and propaganda, and finally falling from a position of respect into a position of intolerance, it’s an unfortunate complicated mess. Sometimes there are casualties. When the casualties are mere children, the pain deepens beyond belief.
As a friend and I discussed the other day, sometime it seems like people around us may get caught in a muck, a quicksand of sorts, and when you try to put a hand out there for them to grab on to, instead of grabbing hold, they kick and scream and only end up sinking faster. When this person is someone you consider a friend it’s even worse.
I often have to remind myself, you can’t make someone want help. They have to want it for themselves. So even though we can clearly see a person change, we can see everything that used to be important to them just get shoved to the side while new items of importance take their place --- often it seems to be people are substituted for money, there really isn’t much we can do.
We have to make the decision if we want to continue to sit around and watch, or if we need to cut the strings so as to not be pulled down into the muck with them. It’s well known that often when someone tries to help a drowning person, the victim actually in turn may end up drowning their would be rescuer due to panic.
Sometimes we simply have to stand on the shore out of the way, out of reach and way to see what happens. If that person we have cared for decides they do indeed want help, we can be therefore them. We can offer love, support, even advice, but we can’t heal them. That they must learn to do for themselves, and if they decide to continue forward along the spiritual path, then perhaps, someday again in time, you will find yourselves once again walking side by side.