Quick Wonder

Last night I was reminded/re-introduced to some of Herman Melville’s gorgeous, passionate language from Moby Dick.* Among the words that landed on my heart were these: “It was a sight full of quick wonder and awe!” How marvelous is that. “Quick wonder and awe.”

It comes at a time in the story when Ahab and his men are in the thick of the pursuit of the great whale. It’s a mad rush of action and fury and fear and – well, quick wonder and awe. But while things are wild and terrifying, I love that Ishmael is still present to the wonder and extraordinary nature of this moment in time.

And what if quick wonder is not just that crazy mad rush of wonder as their world is literally whirling, but what if it’s “quick” in the sense of being alive. An active wonder, a wonder that is not observed from afar but rather a wonder being lived right now. This is happening, right now, and I am part of it, and this is opening my heart, and I am really here, feeling this, living this, part of this, this quick wonder.

And might it be possible to be so very present to a moment that we ourselves become quick wonder? My life, my quickness, my being is part of a greater phenomenon.

Quick wonder.

I wonder.

Could we start a movement to be Quick Wonder? Present and open to the marvels of this Life?

I wonder.

* http://www.getswallowed.com/

Hope in My Kitchen.

Dear World,

I’m really sorry. I feel like I messed up a lot today. Sigh. Embarrassed sigh.

I just walked into my kitchen and stared at the walls and my refrigerator. I realized that today I let myself get dragged. Bigtime.

dragged

That lives on my fridge.

Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

The thing is, I knew I was letting myself get dragged, and I didn’t stop it. I just let the negativity run wild and let myself be ruled.

Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

So.

It is with genuine humility that I ask, “Could we please start today over?” I know this day is already nearing an end. But this is in my kitchen, too, and for good reason.

never too late

Amen.

P.S. Kairos moment* The numerous times my son’s sweet spirit has been present in the world today and how that sweetness has run straight through to my heart. Amen again.

*https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/gratitude-is-an-action-word/

Gratitude is an action word.

I was introduced to the notion of Kairos time by Glennon Doyle Melton aka Momastery:

http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

I love her humor and humility as she shares this notion with us, but I so deeply respect her ability to intentionally be present with and for her Kairos moments in day, even if there’s just a tiny one that only lasts 2 seconds. The way she describes it, it seems those moments are the “what matter” moments, the “why we are here” moments. Those moments in which something usually manages to open our hearts, to connect us with each other or the Universe or God – connect us to something outside ourselves that gives us a deep, happy sigh when we can step outside ourselves and think and feel “I’m so glad I was here to be part of this moment.” Here as in here-on-earth here.

I also love what good old Wikipedia says about Kairos. As opposed to Chronos, chronological time, Kairos is “a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens.”* A moment in which everything happens. How marvelous is that. I can’t even quite wrap my head around that idea, but my heart seems to understand it.

I was thinking back over my day, and I realize there were many Grace-filled, Love-filled moments in which “everything happened.”

Early in the day I came across a friend’s post on Facebook which simply read, “Love is a verb.” Boom, I felt my heart open.

This afternoon my son had to face an emotionally challenging situation, and the person assigned to help us was so kind and human that when we left, my son said to me, “That was actually fun.” Deep breath. Heart open. Seriously grateful.

Later in the day I took my son to a playdate. Very shortly after I dropped him off, his friend’s mother (whom I feel lucky to call my friend, too) texted me, “I love your son so much. He is delightful.” Heart now floating on a cloud of gratitude.

Tonight, a friend I’ve never met went above and beyond to send me a message and share something with me he thought might speak to me. Grace and Kairos from afar.

And in the wake of some really tough moments yesterday, and in being able to explore Shame vs. Brutal Truth** with a loved one and here with you in the ether, there is a new peace in my heart. Deep breath of Kairos in. Deep breath of Kairos out.

Gratitude

When my friend posted “Love is a verb,” I immediate also thought of “Gratitude is an action word.” So for these Kairos moments, for the connections I have been part of today, I am deeply grateful.

One last thought/feeling. Reading this was a Kairos moment, too. And while we may not need to figure it all out, I am very thankful to get to keep exploring life, to love life, and to be loved back.

SweatpantsAndCoffee.com

SweatpantsAndCoffee.com

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairos

**https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/brutal-truth/

Brutal Truth

Brutal Truth. That moment when Life holds a mirror up to your face and forces you to take a gritty, raw look at what you see before you. And Brutal Truth cannot be avoided or dismissed. Brutal Truth stays until you look, until you see. To me, Brutal Truth’s other name is Tough Love.

When Brutal Truth appears, I often find Shame shows up, too. The difference between these two, is, however, extreme. Shame is there to try to make us feel like we should slink away into the shadows and never show our faces again. As Brene Brown puts it, in her achingly beautiful and human way:

“Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough….Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” (The Gifts of Imperfection)

Brutal Truth is very different, though it often doesn’t feel any different from Shame. Sometimes I cannot tell them apart until I really sit with myself and realize Shame is giving me the excuse to hide. And then I see that Brutal Truth comes in peace and more importantly, comes in love. Do you know J. Ruth Gendler’s The Book of Qualities? Her personification of these pieces of ourselves astonishes me in her accuracy and humanity. Of Truth she writes:

“Truth has been employed as a thief stealing illusions….When Truth’s fingers touch my shoulder, I hear bone touching bone….He lingers in the long pauses between the questions and the answers…Truth is willing to wait for a long time with little attention or visible encouragement. Truth is not willing to live without Love.

And when I can come to that and realize that Brutal Truth is actually genuine love, then I can start working to send Shame on its way. So I find myself back again at this core reality that if we can open our hearts, painful as it will be, we will find truth, honesty, and compassion. In this case, Brutal Truth comes only because of the need to share compassion, care, and concern. But mercy, such truths can hurt like hell and rock your world.

How does Brutal Truth bring genuine Love? As I was reading more just now, I found this. Gendler writes, “Trust is the daughter of Truth….she is the mother of Love.” Yes, there must be Trust for Brutal Truth to bring Love. Otherwise, when there is no trust and no love, THEN there is Shame. So if we can truly trust the one handing us the Brutal Truth, we will know it is offered from a place of Love.

It’s a lot. And it’s more than a lot in the moment when the truth hits. But maybe if we can open our hearts more, we can trust more, we can love more, and we can face those Brutal Truths without letting Shame in.

I’m going to try.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Melancholy and the Open Heart

When the melancholy comes, it creeps in, slowly, quietly, walking with silent footsteps on the forest floor of my heart. I have learned to spot it in my peripheral vision before it is too close, so now I know it’s coming. But I haven’t learned to detect it before it begins its quiet walk, and I haven’t figured out how to stop it.

I’m not sure I’m meant to stop it. It’s part of me. It doesn’t live with me always but rather comes to visit from time to time. It’s not malicious, but it can be scary.

I know with time it will move along, and I will be ok and feel lighter again. But it’s not like a riot in my soul* that leaves me in a new, life-filed place once the dust settles. It’s curious because unlike the soul riots which are much more violent and can shake me up inside, melancholy just comes and sits quietly next to me on the sofa. Or follows me to work. Or stands with me in line at the Post Office. And I start to feel very, very sad and unsure of just about everything. I don’t feel grounded, and I don’t know when it will pass.

I am grateful that when melancholy comes, it doesn’t completely overtake me. In fact, most people would never know what I’m feeling. But I feel it and have to work my way through it until it passes.

About a year and a half ago, I came across 2 passages that I marked with the words “when in trouble,” and more often than not, if it gets to that point with the melancholy, I remember to pull Melody Beattie’s “Journey to the Heart” off my shelf and turn to the marked pages. Tonight I was deeply impacted by a part of the first marked passage – but by some lines I had not underlined, and I could not help but smile. “Living with an open heart means we stay present for ourselves and feel as much as we can, as much as we need to.” As I type this to share here, it hits me even more: melancholy is part of it, part of this Life with an Open Heart adventure. Maybe that’s totally obvious, but it’s never been clear in quite this way to me before.

As I flip again to the second passage to see if I want to write about it here, I re-read, “Go out, and embrace your connection.” Yes. That is why I am here. Compassion, connection, an open heart, and the courage and strength to stay on the journey.

So I am extra grateful for connection and open-heartedness tonight. That’s you. And the Universe. And God. And my friend I reached out to earlier to say my heart was hurting. And the loved one I reached out to earlier to say this is where I am right now. Thank you for being here with me in this moment in time.

I’m feeling myself smile more as I write this. I think I might even share something that I love and that I feel describes me in some ways, but I don’t want it to sound arrogant, and I’m not really cool enough to share it, but I love it. I love it because everything I feel I tend to feel really deeply. And mostly that’s good, but sometimes, boy, I could stand to feel just a little less. But I wouldn’t change it about myself. I choose to believe I inherited it from my dear grandmother, this deep-feeling-heart-laid-bare-heart-on-sleeve-ness. My cousin has it, too. And my sweet son. So here it is, at the risk of sounding silly – but maybe silly is good, especially if it helps lead the way out of melancholy’s forest. Here’s to open hearts, sensitivity, deep feeling, and even dear melancholy.

from SweatpantsAndCoffee.com

from SweatpantsAndCoffee.com*

*https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/a-riot-in-my-soul/

This Winding Road

This photograph, which went straight to my heart the first time I saw it, hangs in my living room. It's called the Winding Road, and it was taken in Jefferson Davis County in Texas. Alas, I cannot read the photographer's name, but I am so grateful for his gift.

This photograph, which went straight to my heart the first time I saw it, hangs in my living room. It’s called the Winding Road, and it was taken in Jefferson Davis County in Texas. Alas, I cannot read the photographer’s name, but I am so grateful for his gift.

Will you walk along this road with me?

I do not know what we will discover.

But I am glad to be on this journey, this journey on this winding road that is Life.

The Open Heart Connection

I find myself, through these writings and with you, exploring what it is to have an open heart, to live with a heart open to the world, open to possibility, open to hurt, open to feeling all manner of things, open to connecting with another person, with a moment in time, with ourselves. And then today I came across this from the marvelous Terri St. Cloud who is Bone Sigh Arts:

My word. I saw that, read that, felt that, and my heart did a little happy dance of gratitude. No, more like a deep bow of gratitude to the Universe and to God. “Strength lies in the opening of the heart…” (Terri St. Cloud)

This resonates so deeply with me, not only because of this journey I’m on but also because it makes so clear that having an open heart isn’t all sunshine and roses and ease and smiles. It can be, of course. The opening of the heart hopefully often will lead to great joy and genuine compassion and connection. But it may be really, really hard before it gets to that point. It takes great strength to open your heart and go to those places. It takes courage. It might mean riots in your soul.

I’ve never been good at confrontation. I don’t like it. I’d gladly go around the block to avoid confrontation. But I am learning that part of having an open heart means staying right there in the Thick of It, whatever It is in that moment, and showing up to my life and to the connection even if the connection is really hard.

I’m not saying that I believe we always have to go into the fray to have an open heart. Indeed, sometimes the path to opening your heart is to step back and let be. Sometimes the path is to just be present for someone else or for yourself, listening to what they need from you, not necessarily what you might want to give. The opening of the heart can take on so many forms, and I find that wonderful. An open heart is an invitation to see where life may lead us.

So. Here we are in this together, and I am so grateful. “Strength lies in the opening of the heart…” Amen, and yes.

 

 

A riot in my soul.

Sometimes I am presented with a situation, something happens to me or even just around me or near me that stirs up such intense feelings that it’s like the wind has been knocked out of me. I’m not just talking about anger. I’m talking about a moment when your world is so rocked that the very core of your being trembles inside.

It can be very unnerving and usually doesn’t feel-good-to-feel. I feel my whole countenance change on the outside and my heart turn upside down on the inside. I feel unsure and unsteady. I start to question everything.

It feels like there’s a riot in my soul.

As hard as it is to sit with, to live through, I know there’s probably a reason it’s happening, and when the earthquake quiets, and I survey the rubble, I’m often surprised to feel that what surrounds me is something quite gentle yet powerful. It feels like I can breathe again, not merely picking up where I left off before the riot, but like I can breathe in more deeply than I could before the quake.

One time years ago in the midst of a particularly difficult time in my life, I remember feeling like after the riot there were just pieces of myself scattered all around, and I did not know how to put them back. Actually, I think I must have still been in the midst of that great riot. It was very scary, and I was deeply sad. I was in midst of grief and despair.

And then one day I realized I only needed to put back the pieces of myself that I wanted to. This riot had, after much core devastation, provided me the chance to create anew the person I wanted to be. And this was marvelous and wonderful to me – and such a relief. There were pieces of the rubble of myself that I could leave behind, and there were pieces of myself I could pick up lovingly and restore to their resting place in my heart. And then there was room for some new pieces I might yet encounter along the way.

I still experience riots. As hard as they are in the moment, I have come to know they are a really good thing, especially if I can find the courage to stay in the fray and be connected to the trembling core. When I come through it and the dust is settling, I breathe again. I breathe a new peace and a new strength. I try to hold onto it as I pick up a new piece of myself from the rubble and put it gently in my heart.

It all matters.

Every tiny bit of ourselves that we put into the world matters.

I was in a store the other day and heard a father talking calmly and lovingly but firmly with his little girl (who was maybe 4 or 5). He was talking to her about kindness and respect and her behavior and how she needed to listen to her mother and do what her mother said. Their discussion went on for quite a while in a quiet, engaged way, and I caught at least one other woman in line with us looking over and smiling at the father. I was so moved by his presence in the moment (being truly there and connected with his daughter), by his commitment to wanting to help his daughter grow into a kind, respectful person, by his honesty, by his willingness to take this moment in public to have this discussion right then, that when I finished checking out, I looped back around to tell him what an amazing father I knew he was and that I believed what he was doing for his daughter was so wonderful and important and to keep at it. The other woman who had been listening, too, jumped in and agreed with my sentiments. I think we lifted him up a bit. I hope we did. I believe no matter what it is – whether you like someone’s blouse or shoes, or are moved by an act of a stranger’s kindness, or feel the love a parent has in doing what’s best for their child even if it causes a scene or even if it’s the harder thing to do in the moment, I believe life is too short not to share what has moved us and thank that person or acknowledge that person and share the tiniest moment in time. I’ve never had anyone look at me like I was crazy for connecting with them in this way. There is always a brief smile and the tiniest inhale of “thank you” which is usually then verbalized, too. Certainly when people do that for me, it runs straight to my heart and lives there for a bit, and sometimes for a long while. And while I may have complimented him, what that father did is still resonating with me several days later, as you can tell. I think when you see someone else’s heart so open, it can’t help but open yours a bit, too.

Jonathan Fields, creator of the Good Life Project, once said, “Never forget that what you put into the world matters, even if it’s just to one person, even if it’s just to you, even if it’s just a little bit. And that’s enough.” To this I say Amen, Onward, and YES.