Thursday, February 16, 2012
The Heart Loves
Note to readers: Sure, Valentine's Day is over for the year, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep talking and thinking about Love, Love, Love, every single day, all year round!
By Karen Beetle
The heart loves. In the deepest moments of exploration, we can understand that this is what hearts do. In any way they can and with any capacity they have – hearts love. All kinds of obstacles prevent us from knowing, expressing or receiving love. Love can be overshadowed, side-stepped, drowned out or directly denied – but its power in human experience is inescapable. Underneath all of this – there is a purity to the heart’s love that is without question.
In my young adult days, I read the history of Valentine’s Day and celebrated it as a holiday in which the oppressed were not forgotten. San Valentine was known for his love letters and other acts of compassion for those imprisoned in his community. His love was the starting point for Valentine’s Day as we know it. During these years, I gathered with others to witness to and articulate the suffering inherent in the prison system and to support prisoners in their appeals for dignity and human rights. For a number of years, I made homemade valentines to pass out to family and friends – acknowledging the human connection that feeds me in my life. I also helped my daughter make valentines and created family rituals during the years she lived at home. Now I need to be more pro-active so her valentine’s treats can arrive at her dorm by February 14th.
But I don’t forget what underlies this cultural ritual of colorful hearts and chocolate. The power of the human heart was expressed in a powerful way through the movie, "Happy." One of the women interviewed as part of this documentary was a former debutante and beauty contestant who was disfigured and underwent 29 surgeries to reconstruct her face. In a poignant interview, she describes the depth of happiness and acceptance that she feels in her life now. She experiences a sense of connectedness and groundedness that she never knew before being tested in the crucible of pain and trauma. She speaks of the heart’s power – and its unstoppable capacity to connect. Likewise, another interviewee works at Mother Theresa’s home for the dying in India. In the face of profound suffering and loss, he finds strength in the simple act of holding a dying boy’s head and helping him drink. His smile is geniune and filled with ease. Our mind might struggle with such profound loss with fear – but the heart holds the head and the water and offers the only substance that matters – human love and connection.
Let this time of year offer us an opportunity to cherish what is inalienable in our human realm. A living breathing heart accompanies us through our days. This fact can be peripherally in our awareness – or it can be the only anchor we know. Stay close to truth of the heart’s power and possibility. Stay close to the sustaining power of love and connection. Celebrate it this week – in whatever way you do – with flowers or chocolate or cards – but celebrate this ongoing doorway that welcomes and receives us – from birth until our dying hour. As St. Augustine reminds us: “If you are looking for something that is everywhere, you don’t need to travel to get there. You just need love.”
Writer Karen Beetle is a therapist and mindfulness teacher. You an reach her at (518) 424-7516 or kabeetle @aol.com. This piece appeared first in Holistic Health, a blog kept at the Albany Times Union by yoga instructor and massage therapist Judith England