Have you ever sat with a dear friend and cried tears that were long held back? Tears that were perhaps sparked by a particular loss, or frustration, but that flow beyond that trigger, tears that wash our hearts through of all the multitude disappointments, misunderstandings, exhaustions, sorrows of daily living?
Our hearts were made for connection this way. When we are lucky enough to count in our circle friends and beloveds who can see and hold us this way, without judgment or the need to ‘fix’, we are blessed. They are those friends who can simply lean into the discomfort and intensity of those feelings with us, holding a hand perhaps or simply offering tissues and tea and a space on their sofa for us to unravel. Their presence in our lives is healing.
A radical choice
In a culture where we are so often taught from an early age to wind up the drawbridge, bolt the gates, present a face that’s unassailable, serene and defended, it is nothing less than an act of revolution to choose to open our hearts in this way. We have an epidemic of loneliness, of mental health challenges – we all know people who are struggling, alone, locked up inside the paradigm of ‘I’m OK’, and we all know that place for ourselves, at least from time to time.
To ‘soldier on’, to ‘buck up’ is a pathological response to pain that shuts it up, buries it deep inside our hearts. Like Pandora’s Box though, those buried pieces of anguish are likely to resurface and wreak havoc from time to time.
That’s why I offer the work of the village, of the circle here at Earthheart. In itself it is powerful medicine. Coming together in community is a new habit for so many of us and perhaps an uncomfortable one at first, as we grow used again to the old ways of offering our hearts up with all their burdens, and all their beauties. Yet the more we do it, the more readily our hearts respond and relieve themselves of the roars of rage, the sobs of grief, the wails of disappointment that we’ve been holding back in an effort to fit in, to not cause a fuss, or simply so that we can keep our heads above water in the whitewater flow of our busy lives.
It is a fundamental human need, this urge to connect and open. The myriad small ways in which our hearts are hurt by the ways in which our society forces us to live, require a simple remedy. Gathering around a fire, around an altar, in a space held with prayer, respect and grace where we agree to listen with all of ourselves and without judgement, is the remedy our ancestors knew and it remains the way of many tribal cultures to this day. It is preventative medicine – a regular opening of the pressure valve in order to prevent a catastrophic build-up. It is a way for humans to open out a little more each time so we can better accommodate the everyday stretch of our lives.
A commitment to our own freedom
Can you find a way to commit to this choice, to find a trusted friend in whose company you can begin to open? To make of that witnessing and sharing a regular practice so that your heart grows used to the exercise and finds its flow once more? Make of it a sacred space and time, as simply as you like, perhaps sharing a meal or tea beforehand, or as elaborately as you wish, creating sacred space and an altar by which to gather.
Let’s remember ourselves as the powerful beings we truly are, when we are no longer constrained by our fear but stretched wide and full and free by love.