this thing called heart

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soaring black-cockatoo
Soaring Black-Cockatoo

I’ve been thinking about the heart lately, not in a physical sense but as the site of the soul, the spirit, the emotions, of love … I’ve been thinking about how we have the capacity to open our hearts or close them and why we choose to do either and whether we should and if so when.

Like the rest of us I’ve had this non-visible but core of my being stretched, ripped, shattered and broken, but I’ve also had it glued back together with sticky tape and string, fused together with meditation and prayer, rebound by the love of others, the flight of a bird, the roar of the surf and the limpid eyes of a dog.

Rumi, the great thirteenth-century mystic, poet and originator of the whirling dervishes, insisted that only a complete personal dissolving into the larger energies of God could provide the satisfaction that the heart so desperately seeks. If I follow his lead I should open my heart, trusting I will be absorbed by this Goodness…

But ‘open’ has a partner called ‘risk’. It is easier for the heart to sit in a paddock, on a hill, on a beach, and take joy in the grass, the sky, and the wildness of aloneness in an empty landscape, than negotiate the trapeze act of opening on the one hand and guarding on the other.

Sometimes our heart drops its guard when we should really know better, there can be that split second recognition that the doors are wide open and suddenly the robot is yelling, ‘Danger, Danger, Will Robinson’ as we slam the door shut… in fact with some folk I can be a bit, ‘Get Smart leaving headquarters’ about it …

Soaring Black-Shouldered Kite

Whether we deadbolt the door or prop it open the whole point of this self rumination is that we are both observers and participators. We consciously know what we are doing, whether the home crowd is cheering from the stands, or booing and throwing empty beer cans on the field, a part of us decides. In that split second. We choose.

For some time now I have chosen the wildness of aloneness in an empty landscape … where, by the way, I feel perfectly happy and content … but there remains, in small moments of time, another choice … and maybe one day I will take it. I will grab ‘open’ and ‘risk’ by the hands and run into the flowering meadow, or bungy jump into the gorge of sweet nothingness, revelling in the ride and oblivious to my descent.

I may be full of contradictions and uncertainties, but I am also full of a quiet knowing and peace. I want my heart to soar like an eagle, to rise like the phoenix, to physically pump healthy blood through my body and keep me in good health.

I don’t want it to shrivel and die like a piece of discarded garlic at the bottom of the garden and I don’t want your heart to be living there either.

Let us agree. We will open our hearts, but we will do so wisely. We will contemplate the words of Lao Tzu, ‘The softest thing in the universe, Overcomes the hardest thing in the universe’

We will accept Rumi’s wisdom and we will venture forth … in love.

Acknowledgements: The Forbidden Rumi: The Suppressed Poems of Rumi on Love, Heresy, and Intoxication; Tales From the Tao: The Wisdom of the Taoist Masters


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