When you open a window to your heart, you may be surprised at what you see inside.
A few days ago I was participating in a Kyudo (Japanese archery) seminar. In Kyudo the idea is not so much to hit the outer target, as it is to realize the inner target, the Soul. At dinner time I was sitting with my teacher, a wise and humble student of Zen Buddhism, and three other students, all of whom were former Catholics. After so much intense practice of Kyudo, we were all in a space where we could share our feelings with trust.
The conversation turned to why they had left the Church. For all three of the students, birth control had been an issue. I had also been a Catholic during my child-bearing years, but I had never told anyone why I left the Catholic Church.
Suddenly I found myself speaking vehemently. I had loved my local church, sung in the choir and all that, but after my fourth child, I knew that I would not survive another birth. I was a convert, so I was more strict than most of my fellow Catholics.
If I was a Catholic, I could not use birth control. End of story!
I was faced with a life-changing decision: choose either the Church or my life.
I chose Life and left the Church.
My teacher said nothing, but just looked at me – and looked – and looked. And as he looked into my heart, I realized that I had feelings of anger and grief about this decision I had never allowed myself to feel. After 50 years, the emotional charge was still there, exerting a subtle influence on my attitudes and decisions, totally without my knowledge!
Afterwards, I felt free, talkative, communicative, enlivened. Opening that window had also opened the gate to camaraderie with my fellow students.
A closed door to communication had been opened. That is why I recommend, not only looking into your heart, but telling someone about what you find there. The Listener must be there for healing to happen.
Words spoken from the heart bring healing to you and others.
“Alchemy of the Heart” by Michael Brown
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E-mail Dorothy Seeger at, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (510) 250-9109