Open Your Heart

I received a simple letter in the mail: my retirement savings will be transferred to a new company. My first reaction: fear. Fear of change and uncertainty. Since my mom's death I feel a heaviness in my chest—pain that feels solid; more solid than anything I've ever experienced. My first reaction: fear. What if this pain never ends?

In small and large ways, we're all impacted by uncertainty; we're all affected by loss. Our pain, as well as our happiness, connects us. Naomi Shihab Nye writes about this in her poem "Kindness" (excerpted here):

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore.

For me to know sorrow, I must face fear. I can't know sorrow as the deepest thing inside if I remain afraid. Each time I dip into grief, something shifts and softens. It's not as solid as fear wants me to believe. And if I don't open my heart to deep sadness, then I can't open my heart to wondrous joy. If I don't embrace uncertainty, then I never feel peace.

We humans resist pain. But in that very resistance we give up so much: compassion, kindness, presence, and ease. As we move toward pain, opening our heart to ourselves, we move toward love. The unprotected heart is vulnerable but it's also expansive and free.

I see your hardship and suffering. I see the size of the cloth. In response, I open my heart to everything—uncertainty, loss, contentment, and love. It's only kindness that makes sense anymore. Kindness inward and kindness outward.