Thursday, November 19, 2020

8:22 a.m.

Recently, as I was thinking about an old hymn that says a grateful heart is one that has ample ‘room’, it 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 room with no walls and no ceiling, that’s the kind of expanse 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 totally non-material, and therefore has a spaciousness that defies measurement. It can easily expand to make room for anything that comes my way – anything. Strangely, I seem to have long since forgotten this 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 troubles! I usually seem to think of my ‘heart’ as some sort of physical room with walls, floors, and ceilings, and there are simply times when nothing more can be crammed into it. The fact that I glimpsed recently, and am trying to understand more fully, is that no cramming is ever necessary, because my ‘heart’ – my inner spirit – is as spacious 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 certainly don’t have to like them, but I can definitely say, “Welcome. Please come in and make yourself at home.” As surprising as that sounds, the 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 misfortunes, “Now that you’re here in my roomy heart, tell me what you can teach me” – and then thank them when they depart, as they always do.

One day
a man woke up and wondered
why he was in such a large place.
He looked in all directions
and didn't see a boundary
or border line, just a land
that looked like it went on forever.
He was accustomed to living
with limits and dividing lines,
but this was something
different,  a world where the only
borders would be brought about
by his own little beliefs.
He liked this borderless land,
so much so that his little self
soon disappeared into it,
and what was left
was this endless world,
sometimes called the universe,
and his limitless life
inside it.

Below is a painting of a very roomy sky … but not nearly as roomy as my – and our – inner spirit.

Untitled oil painting by Matthew Miller

3:22 p.m.

On our walk today at the Denison Pequotsepos Preserve, we came upon another kind of roominess – an autumn spaciousness in which leaves have floated off the trees and left behind a far more open forest. I think we both felt a little freer in this roomy woodland, maybe even a little more in touch with the everyday vastness of life.

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