Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Sharing Heart with Heart

 
 

Sharings ... Heart-with-Heart

Apr 5, 2019


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Essentially, we are means of Grace to share with Grace, to be with others gracefully. When this occurs, we feel at home, for we are experiencing home, and home is Love. Life will respond, when we pray sincerely, with words or in silence, willing foremost to be a means of Grace, "Where you will me to be, take me, so to be a blessing and to be, in so being, blessed. Thank You."

In this writing I share a series of reflections and some anecdotes around the theme heart-with-heart sharing. What is this? How does it happen? What about outcome? How are we compassionate in contexts where trust is not possible? I seek to address being graceful as more than being friendly, being sentimental, or even feeling one needs to trust another he or she deeply shares with. In this matter, what I write may be challenging to some of the popular assumptions about compassion, sharing, and serving others.

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Recently, after a year plus off employment, devoting time to writing, I placed a first application for employment, at a prison. I have been a jail and prison chaplain prior and, also, taught when a college professor in state and federal prisons. Most persons would not welcome working in such contexts, but I have found it an enjoyable place for working as a team member and providing spiritual guidance to inmates.

A prison is a place filled with wounded persons, most deeply so, gathered in one place, and the ideal is rehabilitation. And there can be no rehabilitation without healing, and healing is always relational. So, to me, a chaplain may have the most direct route to encouraging rehabilitation, as spirituality addresses the whole person. Yet, the wise chaplain is aware his or her being a chaplain can be seen by an inmate as an opening to manipulate the chaplain. A setting for spiritual work in corrections is odd, and one example is that one is to assist others to rehabilitate but can never allow himself or herself to befriend the inmate or trust the inmate. Some would say, "Then, how can this work?" Please keep reading, and observe the fact of context in even heart-with-heart sharing, and know "heart" means here essence, not person or personality. Indeed, in spatial terms, we are in essence, not essence in us, for essence is the essential.

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So, how can you be graceful in that kind of context wherein you cannot and are not to trust or befriend those you serve ~ indeed, the safety of others and yourself requires you not to befriend and trust? And prison is only one context this applies. We each may enter varied contexts where we cannot trust or befriend and, yet, we wish to be graceful and a means of Grace. We may even have to exclude ourselves from some contexts, though we had not wanted to. An example is a graceful being who is in an intimate relationship with an abusive other. There is nothing ungraceful about subtracting yourself from involvement with someone harmful, indeed, one can say both "I forgive" and "No more." Both forgiveness and intolerance, then, can arise as an expression of Grace.

How Grace expresses is always shaped within a context, for Grace is incarnational, manifesting within the body, the shape, of the surroundings. The Invisible fits with the visible, in expression, in unity ~ a unity present even amid the contradictions. I have found seeing both an inmate as an inmate and seeing the inmate as more than what he or she did to be incarcerated to be vital to sharing with that inmate. If one could not see inmate and essence, how could one be a means of gracefulness to him or her? If one is only what he or she has done, called good or bad, then we are only doers, not beings.

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A principle in all faith work and essential for compassionate, caring sharing is essence is prior to person, and, another, essence precedes doing. Yes, one can so get lost in doing that he or she forgets the truth of his or her essence, and one, in this lifetime, may never reclaim that inborn innocence. Yet, that does not mean it is not present. And one can as easily lose connection with his or her true being through attaching to being good as attaching to being bad, for essence is, again, prior to doing anything, either called good or bad. So, a priest or monk or spiritual teacher or other faith leader can be as much lost to the innate Grace as a habitual criminal. Indeed, we need not doubt that many persons in the depths of despair due to their ill choices and hurting others, have received Grace, while one preaching Grace may be lost to It.

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This is alike when in hospice work a chaplain sees a dying patient as dying, yet more. Dying and what-cannot-die belong together, they cannot be separated and, so, one cannot ignore either. I could not, when I served in hospice, provide spiritual guidance and help as the patient needed, if I only saw a dying man or woman or child. We cannot share deeply by mere appearance, yet, in sharing we share in the context of appearance. The inmate is rightly called an inmate; the dying person is rightly called terminal, dying, near death. Grace includes both appearance and the more, essence.

My point here is I am not speaking idealistically, but realistically, when speaking of heart-with-heart sharing. This is not some sentimental, romantic idea. In Buddhism, often we hear of the wedding of wisdom and compassion. Compassion is always contextual, as sharing heart-with-heart, while transcendent in itself, happens within the limitations of context. And all contexts are limiting, that is part of the realm in which we live our lives as sentient beings. This means compassion is not to be recklessly, unwisely expressed, but respectful of all within the context.

The Christian teaching of the Incarnation of the Word speaks to this: "and the Word became flesh." For this to happen, the Word enters limitation, for flesh is always limiting. Likewise, this is taught in Buddhism, when Dharma is seen as reality, here and now. Reality here and now is limiting. Yet, we do not see this as a problem, it is simply reality.

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Graceful sharing means essentially you are impersonally present to be a means of Grace, allowing the Life in you to meet the same Life in the other. Impersonally present does not mean unpersonal, as though you negate your personhood or personality. Impersonally present means you relax your ego-sense, the I-sense, the personality and its felt-needs to be affirmed or liked, and you allow Spirit to work through you; you welcome Spirit to take precedence over your sense of yourself. You neither expect nor request Spirit to inform you about what is happening or the results. This goes against prevalent ideas in many cultures, but Spirit does not comply with how personalities define how to live and work, nor what is or is not success.

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Graceful sharing, likewise, means releasing outcome. One might think releasing outcome is not loving, is uncaring. We focus on setting goals, and we define success by meeting them. This is not the way of Spirit in graceful sharing.

Releasing outcome releases you from the burden of how will or will not the other respond. Releasing outcome places you in the moment to enjoy sharing in this moment, appreciating the value of that without turning it into a transaction that has to produce a certain, desired result. Simply put, to use myself as an example, I have been in varied roles for 40 years ~ professor, pastor, counselor, chaplain, ... ~, and I have no interest in or concern regarding how many persons have been positively changed as a result of my work. All that matters to me is that moment of sharing, of caring, of being with. I do not determine, either, the result of my writings. I have written thousands of writings, including a book, and I simply write. The writing is a means of the offering of Grace, of sharing, the outcome I do not know. In fact, rarely does anyone indicate my writing has any influence on them, and most persons who read it worldwide I will not meet in this life. So, writing is a means of Grace, in writing I am a means of Grace, and in that moment and act of writing Grace happens, Creation happens. So, I write. I realize someone may read some of my work after my death and benefit thereby, or no one may read or benefit. Still, I write. Graceful sharing is a response to Grace, not to being seen, known, or praised, or what one does being seen, known, or praised. This being seen, known, and praised may happen, or not, it finally does not matter.

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I truly believe, and have experienced, if you are willing to open your heart fearlessly, gently, wisely to persons, you will find a welcome yourself. This is to say, Spirit has a place for you, and Grace will grace through you, without your having a conscious agenda to make that happen. If you are this, not just do this ~ for the attempt to connect blocks the natural connection arising that is already present ~, there is always a place for you, anywhere can be home. You will find sharing to arise to meet you, even with persons you have never met before. You will grow to expect this, when, at first, it might be very surprising, even befuddling. You are simply witnessing how Grace works, as Jesus spoke in the Gospels, "Of myself, I can do nothing," and Jesus refers to Grace as the initiator of action, calling That "Father."

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Based on my life experience of now almost 6 decades, this does not mean you will be understood by many, adored by many, or liked by many. If someone looked at my life, they could say, "He has had many friends, he has had many enemies." Sometimes, what appears to be an enemy, however, is only someone fearful of your freedom, of your love, of your authenticity. I am not sure I have ever had an enemy, even though I have been treated by many with enmity. Anyone who lives in Spirit will be a threat to many, even as the Light shows the weakness of the darkness. The darkness may appear to be strong, but even a small candle can illumine the darkness.

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What we long for is something more than being understood, adored, or liked. We can live well without being popular, even as much popularity has no substance to it at all, being based on the perception by others that we please them. We want something more substantial than that. We do not want to be like the sports "hero" who is cheered as long as he or she is pleasing the fans by playing well, then booed when not pleasing the fan base. We want something more deep than relating based on pleasing personalities or being pleased by personalities. We deeply need connection, a communion spirit-with-spirit.

We long for connection, heart-with-heart, but we do not mean here romantic or in any sense sentimental, though these feelings can be a blessing. We can refer to our true being as heart, as the essence, or center, where sharing becomes one for already we are, and our differences do not obstruct our being with others in this liberty to share, arising from the innate freedom of our one and shared beingness.

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This is a reason entering silent time daily is important for most, if not all, of us. Here, there is a drop below ordinary consciousness, before person and personality, prior to thoughts and feelings. We feel and know this communion of intimacy, this withinness, and, then, we translate that naturally into our interactions with other beings, with aspects of nature. So, one of the most important lessons we learn, is how this heart-with-heart contrasts with ordinary ideas of sharing. This sharing requires no words, for example, yet words may arise from this Silence and so from the Fount of fellowship. As we relax in this quiet, we find dropping into that sense of Presence, below and before thought and emotion, becomes more natural and occurs more quickly. Silence is slowly coming to the fore as the natural mode of our living, communion becoming more our usual way of being and without agenda and effortfulness. Effort is reduced, for effort is applied only to provide setting for the natural Silence and Communion to manifest of Itself. Again, what we call sharing is an incarnation of Sharing, we work only as to context and means.

Then, we can expect to have moments like the ones below to occur, some not remarkable or memorable, others remarkable and memorable, and some apparently contradicting our disposition. Yet, even small encounters of heart-sharing we discern as it happens, and we respond with gladness and gratitude for having shared in the gift of that connection. We could call this Love or Love happening.

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The following reflection is from Ash Wednesday 2016, the next from a recent sharing at a local coffee shop recently, the final outside a local hospital two weeks ago.

Following Ash Wednesday worship at midday, I leave to go on a visit. I walk into the home, patient and spouse present. She, wife of the patient, is delighted that I just went to the worship service, but disappointed she could not. I could understand somewhat, for she is a devout Catholic. She asks earnestly, with a smile, about the cross of ashes on my forehead, "May I have some of your ashes?" I say, "Oh, I think it's all gone." I had looked in the truck mirror on the way, and I did not see any ashes. "No, it's still there," she says. "I would be glad," I tell her. She walks over, while I bow my head. She moves her finger over the ashes. She backs up, then she marks the sign of the cross reverently on her forehead. We smile. Such a lovely moment of Sharing, a timeless witness to Grace. For a brief time, through reverence in a simple ritual, we transcend where we are, and connect with centuries that have lived before, and those who will live after.

* * *

I wait her arrival, sipping on my coffee drink and preparing to eat the small dessert. This is a new acquaintance, whom I met at Quaker Meeting.

Waiting, I am reminded of something I had recently read. Essentially, a true meeting of heart-with-heart only arises in the freedom of having no agenda. Well, we, this day, had an agenda, for she was leader of the Quaker Meeting, while I was exploring becoming a Friend, or Quaker. Still, I knew a matter to share about could be present, with that not controlling the content or direction of the sharing.

This dear one arrived, and I shared that idea of no agenda at the beginning. And for a long time we shared, yes about Quakers, and so much more we had not planned to share about. The sharing flowed and, then, at a point, the inspiration to continue was over.

After the meeting, I left refreshed, realizing how much these times of free sharing mean to me, how much I would like to have more. I, likewise, recalled a favorite quote of mine. This from Walt Whitman: We were together, I forget the rest. When we are truly, fully with someone, seeing beyond appearance and welcoming connection with what is the essential likeness we share, such provides a reminder of the Love that is simply loving, not I love but the simple truth: Love loves. Then, we share and part fulfilled, not for we are merely pleased by or with each other, but we shared together beyond, for before and deeper, than mere pleasure.

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I await being called in for a test at the hospital. A woman walks in front of me, stops, leans over, and is obviously struggling to walk. After the test, I walk outside in the cold, to return to the cottage. I see this woman, alone, sitting on a bench and waiting for a taxi. Walking up, I start a conversation. I find out she lives in a shared apartment nearby, is diagnosed with cancer, recently had a brother die from cancer, and she tells of having a toe removed due to the cancer. We share about 10 minutes. We part with kind wishes for each other. This was a holy meeting.

Why did I go out of my way, from the direction of my vehicle, to speak with this apparent stranger outside and on this cold day? Why? I do not know. I did not plan it. I prefer no explanation. An act of Grace being graceful is not, anyway, what I do or did, for Grace happens of Its own wisdom and will to share Itself.

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These movements of timelessness into time remind us we are One, and that the beauty of sharing is witness to the Sacredness we are. Yet, we need not over-think such moments, or explain them, for in doing so we are likely to be removed from the immediacy of the Grace and the joy of the Communion. To say "Love happens" retains, somewhat, the simplicity and mystery of these reverential transactions among us, wherein we are more truly ourselves than we usually see ourselves to be.

Live the moment

*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2019

*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title.

 

Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Sharing Heart with Heart

©Brian Wilcox 2019