Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Recently, as I was thinking about an old hymn that says a grateful heart is one that has ample “room”, it suddenly occurred to me that a heart has more than ample room in it. In its true state, my “heart” -- meaning my inner spirit – has no walls, no boundaries, no limits of any kind. My heart can hold as much as life can produce – all the heartbreaks, sorrows, and disappointments, as well as all the joys and delights. If I could imagine a house whose walls and ceiling extend out for an infinite distance, that’s the kind of room my inner spirit actually has. What produces this endless roominess is the simple fact that my inner life – my “heart” – is not made of a material substance, and thus doesn’t have borders and fences or beginnings and endings. My true heart, like all of ours, is made of spirit, not matter, and therefore has a spaciousness that defies measurement or description. It can easily expand to make room for anything that comes my way – anything. Trouble is, I seem to have long since forgotten this wonderful truth. I often see my inner life as the opposite of spacious – as confined, cramped, and filled to capacity, with only a minimal amount of extra room -- and none for any more tribulations! It’s as if my “heart” is a physical room with walls, floors, and ceilings, and there are simply times when nothing more can be crammed into it. The joyful fact that I glimpsed recently, and am trying to grasp more fully, is that no cramming is ever necessary, because all of our hearts are as roomy and wide-open as the endless universe. There’s ample room for any and all failures and misfortunes. In fact, there’s so much room that I could actually welcome disasters when they arrive. I don’t have to "like" them or fawn over them, but I can definitely say, “Welcome. Please come in and make yourself at home.” As surprising as that sounds, the astonishing fact is that welcoming adversity always makes it less scary and more able to be managed. Like a good host, I can turn those frightening visitors – the calamites that visit all of us – into relatively harmless, and even helpful, guests. I can say to a misfortune, “Now that you’re here in my roomy heart, tell me what you can teach me” – and then thank him when he finally departs.

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