13 February 2015

Dare to Open Your Heart

Longing :: Week 6

Love is in the air. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.

My mom has always celebrated Valentine’s Day with me. Brings me to tears just thinking about it. Her love for me, so enormous, so tender, so self-giving. As a child we basically had no extra money—only enough to live on for basic living expenses. Ours was a simple material life, but rich in love.

 bacon fam

Nonetheless, I remember one Valentine’s Day as a kid, Mom surprised me with what seemed to me an expensive, high-quality little stuffed black Labrador. It was a small stuffed animal but a huge token of love that communicated, “You are special. You are loved just for being you.”

This week while thoughts turn to loved ones or the love we long for, St. Valentine—who the holiday is named for—tends to get lost in the commercialization of it all.

You may not know, that in the year 269 AD, it is said that Valentinus was sentenced to a three part execution that consisted of an unimaginable beating, stoning and decapitation—all because of how threatening it was for him to stand in his truth.

While Valentine’s Day has come to be associated with romantic love, the life of the man it commemorates invites us to consider the Love that grounds and nurtures us all—a Love that compels us to live radical lives of freedom.

Perhaps like you, over the years my image of God has expanded. As a child it was easy to envision God as a sort of Santa Clause figure who established expectations for goodness and judged me based on my behavior—a rather fear-inducing way to live.

Today, I experience God as the essence of Love. “God is love (period),” wrote the St. John. And my friend Rudy Rasmus recently wrote a great book on the subject.

Though the Christian religion hasn’t always done a good of relaying this, Christian faith underscores that Divine Love is the Source of our being.

Like a mountain spring whose water originates from mountain peaks, and beyond that from the clouds and the oceans whose water is supplied from a mysterious origin, my life is sourced from a Presence that is higher and other than me. Higher and other and yet mingled with the stuff that makes me, me—the atoms and molecules that make up my material form, the personality that makes me unique, and the spirit that fuels any and all creative work in and through me.

Our life is sourced by the Source. And the essence of that Source is Love.

As I struggle in the ebb and flow of life right now, I’m acutely aware of personal longings related to home and work. I find myself caught in the tension of accepting what is and longing for what can be.

I can actually feel the tension in my back—right behind my heart space. Yoga taught me long ago to pay attention to my body. The tension in my back is signaling a heart expansion. At one and the same time I’m experiencing the constriction of what is not and the expansion of what is to come. It’s manifestation in my body is remarkable really.

Truth is, layers of emotion accompany this inner agony. It’s rather complicated, but brings me to my knees as I realize how much fear gets in the way of being an open and receptive vessel to Love.

And so I’m faced with a choice, either I can try and numb out the tension through any number of numbing agents like junk TV, social media addiction, alcohol, etc. or I can choose to pay attention and submit to this conflicting energy within me.

This week, by Grace, I choose to pay attention. Which means, showing up more often to Solitude, Silence and Stillness. More centering prayer sits, walks in nature, healing teas, and this week I’ve added Metta Meditation to generate more lovingkindness.

You see, the tensions within us are to be honored, not ignored. The Ground of our Being, Divine Love is at work. And this is a work we cannot do for ourselves, it is done to us. All we can do is create the conditions to yield to the mysteriously liberating Grace.

As we yield, Truth emerges. But get ready. Your truth may be threatening to paradigms that resist freedom, justice, beauty, forgiveness, and all things good. And so let the work be done in you so you can be more open-hearted, compassionate and generous to a world that is desperate for you to be.

This year, Mom out-did herself again. It’s not a stuffed animal this time, but instead she shipped Chris and me decadent, gourmet chocolate covered strawberries. As I bite into one just now, I’m encouraged that my longings are rooted in Divine Love—a Love that is energetic and creative and seeks genuine expression for the healing of our world. 

Reflection

  • How do your longings manifest? Through your thoughts? Emotions? Body?
  • In what ways do your longings create tension?
  • What will help you to be present and receptive to the tension so that you can allow your heart to expand?

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