Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Allowing Our Hearts to Break
I once went to see Todd, an energy healer (whose quote about “the way of no way” appears above with the blog title). During this appointment, Todd started thumping on my chest. At first the thumps were gentle, but gradually Todd increased the intensity until my whole body became a drum. The thumping became so powerful that I felt like my chest would crack open and my heart would explode. It was a little scary. No, it was a lot scary. I tried to stay calm, but I confess I was relieved when he stopped.
Echoes of the thumping reverberated in my body as I started in with my usual questions about what had happened. Ever reluctant to verbally debrief a session, Todd finally responded to my pestering by saying simply that there was a crust around my heart and he broke it off.
Although I paid to have my heart liberated that time, I’ve found that life will often do it for free. A family member disappoints us, a friend betrays us, we lose someone dear, a love is not returned, our feelings get hurt, a child is struggling. It hurts.
Life offers us opportunities every day to make a choice – to guard our hearts behind thick, crusty walls, or to open the door to the pain that enters hand in hand with joy. Yep, hand in hand. That’s why sometimes we cry with joy, and sometimes laugh through our tears.
Chogyam Trungpa described the heart of a warrior as being so tender that a feather’s touch would burn like fire. Okay, that doesn’t sound so appealing. Why would anyone want that? Many of us, if we’re honest, wouldn’t. And yet, time and time again, we walk right into the fiery furnace, willing to risk anything, suffer anything, to experience the sublime transcendence of deep, profound love.
President Obama, when asked in an interview about parenting, shared the familiar analogy of walking around with your heart outside of your body. I remember years of repressing the grief I felt over having an autistic child, until the love buried alongside chipped through the concrete like an irrepressible sprout. The love bloomed bright red, the color of a bleeding heart. The love and the pain – both exquisite.
What is it about love that calls us to its stony shore like the Sirens of mythology? I think it’s because we recognize that shore as home. Love is our natural state, the birthplace of our soul. Our life’s journey is one of returning home. And like the ships that heeded the Sirens’ call and crashed upon the rocks, our homecoming will break apart the shell around our hearts, and set us free once more.
A heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe. ~Joanna Macy