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Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™

"Do you love this world?" asks Mary Oliver in her poem Peonies. I'm reminded that I do by the blooming magnolias and vibrant forsythia during the all-too-fleeting New England springtime.

To celebrate, here is one of OTH's favorite poets reading three amazingly moving poems. What could be more earthy than "the green fists of the peonies", "the clear pebbles of the rain" and ingesting grizzly scat?

 

I hope you enjoy absorbing these beautiful verbal images.

Peter


 
Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™

I've always loved this song from the musical Hair. What's not to like about lyrics that celebrate the energy of youth and the triumph of life over adversity. This version by Nina Simore really rocks. Enjoy this months musical offering from us at OTH.

Peter


 
Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™

A number of years ago a woman in her early 30's, "Barbara" came to an Opening the Heart workshop for the first time. On Friday night, sitting in a chair facing the whole group, she told the following story in a flat, emotionless voice: She woke up one morning to find that her husband of 5 years had died in the night of a massive heart attack- 4 months before the birth of their first child. When the baby was 6 months old, he died of crib death, and Barbara entered a dark landscape of paralytic grief for almost 5 years before coming to the Heart workshop. I would like to tell you that the workshop was a deeply healing, emotionally cathartic experience but I don't know that that was true. But on Sunday, at the Closing Circle, Barbara cried one tear, the only emotion I had seen in working with her the whole weekend, and then she said she now knew what she had to do to move forward....

Two weeks ago, in Kennesumma, a small seaside town in northeastern Japan, a man, almost 70, wandered dazed through the wreckage of what had been his home. He'd been a barber. He lost his business, his wife and three children. When a reporter asked him how he was going to start over, he said "I think it's too late for me. I'm too old. I've lost too much... But I will try...."

In mid March 1959 as evening descended on Lhasa, Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, accompanied by a very few trusted protectors, disguised themselves as soldiers, slipped out of the royal palace, past the Chinese camp and onto a rough trading route headed toward India and freedom almost 100 miles away. It had been10 years of brutal repression, murder, torture and broken promises by the Chinese on the peaceful and beautiful country of Tibet. Within 24 hours of the Dalai Lama escaping, the Chinese bombed the palace, destroying the Dalai Lama's home, ancestral treasures, and killing thousands of innocent Tibetans. For 52 years His Holiness has watched from his government in exile in Dharmsala, India as the Chinese have destroyed monestaries .and tortured "imperialist reactionaries". He watches with a broken heart as his country and his culture have been "reintegrated into the Motherland". At the end of Martin Scorcese's movie "Kundun" about the Dalai Lama's life, the screen shows two written lines that read "The Dalai Lama has never been back to Tibet. He hopes to return one day". In all these years, this great man has never stopped embracing nonviolence and compassion as the only way to heal suffering in the world.

It moves me in a very deep place to witness people who seem to have been stripped of everything and yet they just don't let go of their faith and their love. Naomi Shihab Nye in her poem "Kindness" says that before you can know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.: Roger Housden wrote that when we know that sorrow "as a lived experience", then it is that very pain and suffering that connect us to what's deepest and best in every one of us.

With Love and Respect, Jon

Jon2


 
Posted By The Opening the Heart Workshop™

It's finally quiet on the ward. It's the hour after lunch and the hour before group therapy when I will listen to Karen tell us about her Uncle Charlie who comes through her bedroom walls to steal her sweaters; and to Richard who has a tatoo on his neck of a snake and a rose with the words "Don't Take Me Alive"; and to Mike who believes the Judgement Day has already come and we are all already in Heaven with the Day Nurses and the Psychiatrists administering our eternal ward rooms and medications....I'm not judging, mind you, because I am painfully aware that I am far from solid ground myself. Let me start at the beginning.... A few weeks ago I faced a painful awareness that my virus-riddled and slow moving dinosaur of a PC had to be put down. Putting it down, killing it or disassembling it was not the problem. It was the terrifying thought of what I would have to go through to get a new one. So I called my friend David and he said he would go with me to Staples and hold my hand through the ordeal. He met me at the store, said he's done "the research" and had, in fact, bought "that one" last month and that it was on sale and his recommendation was that I get it too. Then it began to happen.... David and the tech support person, " Darryl", started talking to each other. The scene began to blur and they now were talking in tongues. I was looking through the long end of a telescope as they debated rams, giggle bites and voltage regulators. Then I remember pulling out my credit card, smiling and saying "thank you". David tried to help me set up the new machine but we didn't know how to connect it to the wireless printer or how to find 6 years of Quicken data or where to find my address book. Also I couldn't find where my free 4 hours of on-line training were so I called my "chief wizard" consultant who yelled at me for buying a PC and not a Mac, and then made everything work for another $240. My wife told me I should have bought a Mac. I called my friend Peter who told me I should have bought a Mac. I was disappointing everyone. I began taking tranquilizers and went back into therapy, hoping to avoid an inpatient hospitalization. I realized one day before the return policy ran out that I'd made a mistake buying this PC and I brought it back to Staples. When "Darryl" asked why I was returning it, I told him I was going to get a Mac. He smiled and said "Good move!" Have you ever been in an Apple store? There are about 11,000 gawkers and geekers in there day or night. I threw myself around the ankles of a blue-shirted young man who unclenched my desperate hands and told me he didn't work there but I should talk to a salesperson.... Anyway, I bought a computer, arranged for a "training of data transfer", signed up for "one-to-one tech support", whatever that is; purchased 3 years of "I Care" which I think is where they send you a card on your birthday. And then I went for my inpatient evaluation.... The psychiatrists tell me they are confident I can someday walk out of the hospital into a bright shining 21st century. I smile flatly and say "I hope so, Doctor". But I really believe that I never was meant to leave the 1960's. And last night, Uncle Charlie came through the walls of my ward room asking me if I wanted to buy a Kindle.

With Love and Respect, Jon

Jon2