A crisis is a moment of opening, loosening, cracking apart. Lightning strikes and breaks open something that was supposed to be precious, sealed, preserved for years. Our day’s plans collapse. A relationship becomes something unimagined. All the work, hope, and fear is transformed into a new shape entirely. Shock and trauma may coincide with a crisis, leaving us reeling and lost.

A crisis is not an end, though it can be filled with endings. Possibilities become foreclosed and lost forever. Pain long suppressed surfaces with fresh intensity. Suddenly we feel lost, confused, angry, hurt, or we’re so knocked around we don’t even have enough ground to sense what we feel. Things get lost, things get broken. We feel pain and shame, guilt and grief.

A crisis has a way of distilling life down to its barest, rawest essence. True friends appear, false friends disappear. Relationships that are solid become stronger and more durable, other relationships crumble. Long-held secret hopes and fears come to light and are either validated or permanently resolved.

The moment of sudden, startling change is upsetting, unnerving, and can feel like everything around us is coming to ruin. There is possibility in the ruin and collapse. Possibility for compassion, commiseration, for genuine being-there-togetherness. We can set aside the expectations of what should be and judgments of what is and turn toward each other with open hearts. We can turn toward the ruin and the pain, take in a deep breath, and begin moving forward.

A crisis can be ruin, and it can be the cracking shell of a new seed of hope. We can only live our way into these possibilities.