Monday, June 20, 2011

Falling In

Ajisai from Hasedera, Kamakura, Japan

Worry Wart

I talk about worry too much. This is not stuff I think about at home in the quiet, but sometimes when conversing these mindless fears dominate the discussion then later it perplexes me as to why. I fill in the gaps with "what could be" anxiety. I review fears as if they should be itemized and discussed with great legitimacy as if I could even do something about them. Later I see the missed opportunity to listen or to go somewhere new in a conversation. I wish I listened more.

Making Room for the Soul

A few nights ago I read Parker J. Palmer's description of living with things that are uncomfortable and between the gaps- things that are difficult and may require us to change something in our life.

There is an old Hassidic tale that tells us how such things happen. The pupil comes to the rebbe and asks, "Why does Torah tell us to 'place these words upon your hearts'? Why does it not say to place these holy words in our hearts?" The rebbe answers, "It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay, until one day, the heart breaks, and the words fall in. 
Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

He writes that we know how to make room for intellect, emotions, will, ego, but less about making room for the soul. In attempting to reach it, I sometimes smother mine. He likens the soul to a wild animal that needs space and writes, "But if we will walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently at the base of a tree, breathe with the earth, and fade into our surroundings, the wild creature we seek might put in an appearance." He describes the people who help us grow do so by offering unconditional love that accepts us as we are without pressure to change, and that from this supportive "force field" we are "safe enough to take the risks and endure the failures that growth requires."

I must let myself be free enough to fail so I can learn from my mistakes. I keep making the same mistakes. I am not letting something get near enough. Unconditional love is what I have for my children, not for myself. I need to place some things on my heart and perhaps someday they will fall in.


  1. I remember reading a french play way back in grad school. Every so often, in between the dialogue, the author wrote "petit silence". At first, this annoyed me and I quickly read over these little gaps. Suddenly, it occurred to me that they were essential to the meaning of the play and indeed, life in general. First, we have to discipline ourselves to be relaxed and comfortable in life's "petits silences". Second, as you pointed out so poignantly, and this is the difficult exercise...we must learn to listen in them. Thanks for making me think.

  2. I'm just amazed at the depths of your self-awareness. I vacillate between thinking that Americans are a different, more evolved species, and that they are just full of gas. I suppose the truth is likely to be in between, and that us quieter nations have both things to learn and teach.


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