Follow your heart.
If I had a dime for every time someone told me to do that; in a conversation, on an inspirational card or in a sappy love song, I would be rich. But then again, I am rich, and it has nothing to do with money. It's a lovely and catchy phrase, but it was lacking in substance and instruction. Until I understood it as an invitation, and not a prescription. Before I could follow my heart, I had to understand what the "heart" was. And the metaphor of a pulsating electric current of a life-giving energy is what I have landed on.
I love life today, precisely because I know life is not mine. It is a part of a much bigger reality that I tune in to. And that is why the original question that prompted my search to know that God was real, began with this potent wonder,
What is in the way God?"
Forgiveness. That was it for me this week. And every week that my feet walk this earth. It's always about seeing things differently, and not with my eyes.
My spiritual teachers haven't always looked like spiritual teachers. Just ordinary folks with extraordinary stuff going on; in fact, some of them didn't even look ordinary any more because they were sick. Angry, mean, delusional; you name it. A good friend of mine stopped taking his medication for manic depression several months ago and the results were predictable, and devastating. He lost weight, lost sleep, two vehicles and a bunch of other stuff. He lost the connection to himself, and to many of the people he loved. Mania must feel like a drug, because he refused to get help. He also hurt other people, and I was one of them. He hurt my car too, because I let him try to make a simple repair, and it turned out much, much worse. He ended up in jail, and then, thank God, at the hospital for a two-week stay. I don't scare easily, but he frightened me after a while. I stopped looking him in the eye, refused to give him rides or money anymore, and felt really uncomfortable in his presence. All recommended by some folks I respect, and that knew these descents into madness better than me.
Several days ago, he came to a gathering that I led, late. Very late. He was dripping in sweat as he rolled his bicycle into the building; it was 105 outside. He came and sat right next to me, even though there were many other places to sit. His was barely breathing; parched and exhausted. Something moved me out of my chair and to him, and I bent down and whispered,
"Would you like some water?"
He looked at me with pained eyes, and said yes. I got it, and something to wipe his brow with too.
Several minutes later he told us that his tire had blown, but he got to our gathering anyway. He had to he said. He also said that he was thirsty, and I had given him water, and something to wipe up with. His voice cracked, he put his head down and cried these words,
"That is love. That is why I come here."
It was the most beautiful thing that I have experienced in, well okay, maybe just a day or two, but it was powerful.
I had been so clueless how to deal with this man. How to help him, when he didn't want help. I was mad at him too, I guess I didn't know that.
Some other things have come up for me this week that I needed to forgive, and I didn't know that I was mad about them either. A very beautiful man told me to follow my heart last week in response to something that was trying to get my attention, and that set the stage for the grace of forgiveness to enter me, and move to others in a gesture of love. I can't do that by myself, I have to ask.
Anne Lamott is releasing a new book titled, HELP THANKS WOW: Three Essential Prayers. She is a cool drink of water to me too, and so very funny. I got it, when she posted a message and told the story of the Holy Spirit telling her to save a bumblebee drowning in water; and then another one too. It was so adorable and true.
Following my heart isn't about doing what is comfortable, or what will give me the most pleasure. It is connecting to a source of love that feeds and directs me, and allowing it to move me. I've come to trust its movements more now and am so grateful when I feel them, because I know I have done some clearing work, and released my heart from the bondage that was in the way. And then, I can say WOW.
The photo above is a flock of flamingos feeding on water that formed the shape of a heart. When I ask God for help, give thanks for what I know will be done, even when I don't know how, then I stay in the game for the WOW. That is how I've learned to follow my heart.