CROSSING THE THRESHOLD TO DELICIOUSLY ALIVE
on, I’ll be mad,” Rumi said.Seems to me that life invites us to conceive the nearly impossible; life asks us to let our heart break. Yes. Raving mad, that is, isn’t it? It’s okay. Listen.
It is astonishing how much energy we expend trying to keep our heart from getting broken, poet, David Whyte re-minds us. So in the desert of southwestern Utah, where these things are said to happen, where winds whip up a hot springtime and sand sticks to sweaty skin, I, instructed by Dream and flanked by guides, offered up my heart to be broken again and again. Best thing I ever did.
This tremulous move dropped me to my knees. To the place where we are met by no choice but to be wholly, messy human, ready to serve others, including the more than human others –those enfleshed and incarnate and those intelligences who are not. On our knees, this is the place of sacred reciprocity; the place of an archaic, upwelling of grief and life-force that opens the door to a deliciously alive, life-giving way of being. We land in this place when we turn down the chance to invest one more drop of vital attention in any attempt to avert the inevitable — to avert heart break.
Think about it. How much energy have you invested in trying to protect your heart from breaking? It’s wasted energy. And worse, it keeps you distant from your depths, your core, your animal humanity. From every one. Every thing. We’re meant to be broken. To shred. Melt. Burst open. Come into compassion and exquisite empathy for every thing.
The world is screaming for you to let your heart break. To be fully human is let your heart break. Over and over. To not deny it when it happens. To mend it when you can, when the blood stops flowing. I know; that’s bewildering. And I invite you; be beWILDered. Be deliciously human. Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke suggested, “let everything happen to you — beauty, terror; just keep going.” And Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron tells it like this: “Lean into it…Let the hard things in life break you. Let them affect you. Let them change you. What is the lesson in this wind? What is this storm trying to tell you? What will you learn if you face it with courage? With full honesty and — lean into it?”
Let it rip you open. Tear your eyes away from distraction, and turn you toward the thresholds that beckon you. The ones that matter because they know that grief is the doorway to Love; the step into crystal. Into expansive, generative, natural, sweaty, more-than-human-including-human love and purpose. Don’t ask me how. Mystery knows how. I am a servant. I will tell you, you may come to a no-choice place. And there, you may find utter freedom in that no-choice. I think the world, now, is begging us to let the breaking happen. Within. To mirror and heal the breaking happening all around, without. We are being asked to break. Break Up. Break down. Break out. Shatter. Bleed. You’re on the right track now. The right track to break into radical loving like a thief hungry for soul, ready to serve sweet, dark humanity and the earth’s tangled questions that insist we return her urgent call to let our hearts break into compassionate action.
So what about joy, right? Doesn’t joy break our heart, open? Well, not really. You see, the heart, body, and psyche are often (but not always) fabulously receptive to joy, open to receiving joy, naturally. And yet, here’s the rub: It is a more apt metaphor regarding joy and heart break to say, perhaps, that joy melts the heart. And still, the heart has to be radically opened — often as a result of having been torn open — so that it can, like a raw egg — become soft, runny and transformed into nutrients for the soul. Melting, along with heart break, especially melting down, is also not something our egoic-“just-get-over-it-culture” will tell you is “good for you.” Then again, nearly unutterable grief will melt our hearts as well– but usually only after the grief shatters the heart into kaleidoscopic shards, like the shell of the life-giving egg.
The heart-break and ensuing grief induced by loss of loved ones, beloveds, health, work, homes, capacities we once had but have no longer, for example, is enormously powerful as it tends to be wildly psychologically transformative by way of often (but not always) bringing about an ego-level shattering; a drive-us-to-our-knees shake-down, drops us hard and packs the velocity that produces the impact that affects a “break down.” Stay with me, now; we’re almost through to the other side: and so, with our full attention and grace, the break-down may become break-through, and shift us from outmoded and no longer enlivening ways of encountering and reacting to life into a wholly reorganized (if we do the heart-breaking inner work, that is) way of being and belonging in the world that is generative, creative and organically wild — juiced and ready to go.
This sort of heart-break is a wholistic psyche and soul re-organizer. It tends to be transformative at the depth psychological-level of the psyche — the unconscious and archetypal layers of the psyche on the individual and the collective levels.
The way of the deliciously alive broken open heart is radical; it’s not what we might expect when we talk about heart-break. Turns out, heart-break is a portal to aliveness, to living a life with freaky artistry, to Mystery, to raw, wild creativity in-born in each of us. An intelligence rips through our heart, invades our lives, giving way to a ravishing and natural way of thriving in reciprocity with every thing that moves like a river in and through the soul of the world, on the earth, not forcing and not holding back.
©2014 Melissa La Flamme
Excerpt from the poem, Bewildered by the 13th century, Persian poet and Sufi mystic, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī. Translated by Coleman Barks.
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