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Posted By Opening the Heart

   About a year ago, I decided that I would collect the essays I had been writing for this website for two years and self publish a book that will hopefully come out in a few months. Even then, I knew immediately what the title would be: Sitting in the Circle: Essays from the Heart and Other Internal Organs. In gathering them all together and re-reading them, I was able to have an awareness that, though they are all very different in tone and content, they are all about love in the small places, off center stage. Each was about lifting the hosta leaf and finding a spider's web in diamonds of morning dew, watching new grass grow, holding a patient while she wept in my office, watching a man outside my office drag his lifeless leg behind as he carried groceries home. They are all, I think, small love stories.

   "Sitting in the circle" is a phrase that refers to the structure of how the Opening the Heart Workshop is set up. Every session starts and ends with a circle. Experiencing the transformation of the circle from Friday night to Sunday is why I have come back to the  Workshop for 33 years. By Sunday morning a true miracle has happened. The power of having the heart break open in a group setting- to not feel isolated, self judging and alone any more, but connected to others through sharing of authentic self and buried pain- is one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. The circle is an enduring symbol of community, wholeness and healing.

   So these essays are rooted in the opening the heart experience whether I have referred in the essay directly to the workshop or not. The essays are related to "the heart" but "other internal organs" as well. I think of my late wonderful Aunt Charlotte, who would have read my title, smiled and said "Oh, that's funny, Dear". But I actually mean it. The essays are from the heart, but also from the gut, from the bones and marrow and senses that bring us, dragging our heels, to Life's majesty.

   So, why did I write this book? The initial answer is that in November of 2009, Linda, Donna, Peter and I had a planning and marketing and committed to increasing our visible presence on our website blog. So each month for the past three years I have written an essay.

   That's the surface answer of why I wrote a book. It seemed like a natural evolution to collect the essays in one place. The deeper answer, I think, is directly related to why I have come back to the OTH workshop for so long: evidence of impact. When a writer friend used this phrase it went straight in and felt absolutely right. I did not write the book to make money. And I did not write it for praise or recognition. People's continued ability to awe me through their courage and efforts to heal and redeem their lives, whether at the workshop or in my office- this is the source of what gratifies my life and work. I feel privileged to witness this redemptive process over and over again. Evidence of impact: seeing people's faces at the workshop on Sunday morning or seeing kindness and compassion replace cynicism and self-judgment. This is why I wrote a book. I am hoping that it impacts, perhaps might cause someone to experience their world view differently or, maybe even, to open a heart to self and others. I hope it will have a meaningful impact if you should come to read it.

       With Love and Respect, Jon        Jon