“If we listen to the heartbeat of each other and humanity, we will hear the great rhythm of the Universe.”
~ Ernest Holmes
“Touch is the miracle.”
~ Walt Whitman
Our unfolding is the unfolding of the Universe. Our heartbeat is an echo of a greater rhythm and pulse that reverberates throughout creation. If we would only listen as Ernest Holmes writes, we could hear and know how connected we are to one another, and to the Universe itself. Its heart is our heart and our heart is its heart. The same is true for the stranger you pass on the street just as much as it is for you and a loved one.
Look into the eye of the sparrow perched on a tree and witness the life force reflected there. Touch the tree itself and feel it. Life vibrates quickly through the bird and slowly through the tree, but all is alive, all is the great rhythm of the Universe. Even the still stone resonates.
“Touch is the miracle,” says Whitman. That we are in form is a miracle. We can touch one another and feel our heartbeats, the rise and fall of our chests, the hum and hiss of Life moving through us, as us. Through touch we feel not only physically, but emotionally. Love is communicated through touch and we can touch a soul through a gentle gaze. Touch is tactile, but it is also ethereal, the other reachable on an emotional/spiritual level.
Holmes and Whitman were trying to tell us all is connected and to connect in a visceral as well as tangible way. They are voices from the past, but they saw we were heading into a world of disconnect. It seems we haven't taken their words to heart.
Disconnect is a word of our times. You can track its use over time via Google here. Since the mid-60s it has risen drastically. We talk a lot about it, but it seems we’ve done little to truly connect with one another, the environment or even ourselves. More than ever people seem to be afraid of the “other” as well as being in the quiet with themselves. We’ve lost touch. We’ve lost the ability to reach out and know Life as the person in the next car over, the person posting on Facebook, the person who looks different from us, the ancient tree in the dwindling forest, the Amur leopard who stares out from behind bars, one of less than 300 in the world, just 60 of her kind in the wild.
What if we listened? What if we touched? What if we got to know the world and ourselves again? The World Soul waits to be known again through the experience of each of us. Can we stand still for just a moment, look around, know Life again? Not life as a blur of tasks and forgotten moments, but Life as the pulse of all creation, the Life that beats our hearts, looks out at us through the eyes of another, touches us with the music of those now gone. Listen. Touch. Life waits for us. We never have to wait for It, for It is already here.
And this is what I learned: that the world’s otherness is antidote to confusion, that standing within this otherness–the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books–can re-dignify the worst-stung heart.
~ Mary Oliver
Bird song enters my home through two different windows. Their music-making reminds me of the world’s otherness that Mary Oliver speaks of. Even though I know at the very basic level all is one, it is in knowing that there are many that lights my soul and warms my heart.
There is a world out there to build a relationship with. And it can be a deep connection with everything or simply seeing everything as useful. Our modern world tends to see things, animals and even people in terms of their usefulness. But this is damaging to our soul.
To be immersed in nature or books allows us to connect to the other and therefore ourselves. Since all is connected there is no real difference. But sometimes it is easier to come into relationship with someone or something out there than it is to connect to ourselves.
We may have worst-stung hearts as Mary Oliver puts it. Pain can make us want to run from ourselves. Nature or books can provide the nourishment that makes us strong enough to look within. When we no longer feel alone, we are able to discover that we never were.
Take a few moments to commune with the flowers in your garden or the trees on your street. They know when we’re paying attention. They are alive and have a soul. We feed them with our attention and they feed us with their wisdom.
Or maybe books are more your thing. Spend some time between the pages of your favorite tales. Get inside a story or a poem and know its comfort. Books are our companions and gateways into relationship with the other. Once you spend enough time with one particular piece of writing, it becomes a part of you forever. And you have changed it by brining your own heart and soul to it.
There is power in connecting with the world around us. But sometimes we’ve been too hurt by people and so find it easier to begin with nature or books. Our lives are made richer by gathering otherness to us and becoming one with those words or that grand old oak. Their branches of meaning or leaves can reach into our soul if we let them.
To allow yourself to grieve is to invite grace into your life.
What once was can be no more. Everything is changing and ever becoming something else. We walk through a world in which the only constant is our need to hold on. And holding on to anything is what causes our suffering. All that is will slip through our fingers and linger as memory. If you learn to let go and simply be with what is in the moment, you’ll finally discover the richness that lives there.
Still, we miss what is no longer. A loved one who has died, a friend who has changed and moved on, an animal companion that has crossed over, a job we loved and lost, the person we used to be. Grief rises, fills us until the tears feel as though they will never end. As painful as it is we can’t resist it and expect to just get over the loss. As with every moment, it’s important to simply be in it no matter what, even if grief threatens to overwhelm you. It’s your resistance that makes it feel as though you’re drowning. Float.
The person who tries to climb out of deep water as if it were solid will drown. Emotions are a watery element. There is no solid ground, nowhere to get your footing. The only thing you can do is go with it and float. By faith grace enters your life. Let go. Feel and trust that you will move through it because nothing stays the same. That fact that caused you so much pain now brings hope.
Rest on the water of feeling for a while. You can’t drown if you let it buoy you. Soon peace will rise up, helping you float. In the dark night the sky will clear and the stars will shine down. You’ll discover that all was not lost. Your loved ones live on in you. The lost job becomes living wisdom. Even your old self has become integrated with who you are now.
There are some losses that you will never “get over” because you will always miss that person or animal companion. Over time, if you’ve let yourself grieve, the tears won’t burn quite so much and your heart won’t weigh you down. We can only continue to let go and feel into every moment. Remember, the stars are the light of suns that may no longer exist. That doesn’t make their light any less real. The sky is filled with memories of what once was and so are we. We contain worlds. Let them grace your life.
Learning to Live