When you truly open your heart to possibility, you will find beauty, joy, compassion, love and other miracles.
It’s odd, but my hospice training experience is already crossing over into my artistic experience. Last week’s session made me think about the connections we form when we make our art from a powerful place in our heart. (Yes, that place some of you are finding so hard to think about when it comes to your artist statement!) (And I say that with love and acceptance, by the way. No lecturing parent thing here, just bear with me.)
During my first hospice training session last week, we split into small groups to do various exercises.
I worried for a moment. What if I didn’t like the people in my group?? What if they didn’t like me? I decided to set my fears aside and simply see what would happen.
We started our listening exercises. I soon realized the people in my little group, these “randomly selected” people, were soul mates.
Their stories blew me away. Their outlook on life amazed me. When it was my turn to talk, their compassion sustained me during difficult moments. What we shared with each other was astonishing.
Oddly, when we returned to our big group, I noticed we all felt the same way. Everyone felt their little group was the perfect match for them.
The only thing is, the groups were created in a fairly random manner.
How could all of us, have “randomly” ended up in “the perfect group for us”?
After the session, I asked our trainer how often that happened.
She said it happens all the time.
In fact, it happens every time.
In fact, she’s come to believe this:
“If your heart is open to this work (hospice), then that connection is already there.”
I thought about that all night. This insight is one thing that made me realize this is the perfect place for me to be right now.
When your heart is open, so many things are possible. Miracles are possible.
This phenomenon reminded me of a story, one of my personal favorites.
Years ago, before kids, before Keene, my husband and I shared an evening with new friends. They had just started the arduous process of adopting a child from another country, working with an international organization. In one of their support groups, another couple had told them this story, and now they were sharing it with us.
Now, because this story is third-hand, and because we heard it so long ago, I’m sure I have many details wrong. So if I’ve messed up anything that may be distracting if you know more about this kind of thing than I do, please forgive me and go for the story.
This other couple had gone through years of preparation and paperwork, and waiting and disappointment. (At one point, they were almost given a baby they learned at the last moment had been STOLEN from her mother. They were devastated on many levels.)
But finally, the glorious day came. They were told a child was available for them, really truly available. In fact, a number of children were available. A group of prospective parents were traveling to a South American country together, to receive their new babies and return home.
Now, for some reason, they would not be allowed off the plane. Their babies would be brought to the airport from the orphanage, then carried to the plane by the nuns who cared for them. Each baby would be given to its respective new parents, and the plane would take off immediately and fly home again.
On the flight down, the parents-to-be talked excitedly among themselves. They were bubbling with hope, and excitement.
It had been so hard. So much had gone wrong. They’d waited so long. Was it really going to be all right today? Were they finally going to have a child to love?
Their biggest fear, they all agreed, was that they might be given an ugly baby.
(I remember the way Cathy told this part, in a hushed voice, and it always makes me laugh. It seems so silly! Yet a year later, I was pregnant, and that’s why I remember this part so clearly. Because I had the same fear.)
They could handle anything–missing toes, deformity, sickness, injury. But maybe something else would wrong with the baby. Maybe it would simply be ugly. And what would they do then?
And everyone agreed that it wouldn’t matter. It didn’t matter at all, not now.
No matter what, they all decided they would learn to love that ugly baby, and give it a wonderful home and a beautiful life.
The plane finally landed at the small airport, and rolled to a stop.
They could see the little terminal from the plane. They could see the doors.
They waited. And they waited.
For what seemed like an eternity, they waited.
Was there a mistake? Had something something wrong? Had the orphanage changed its mind?
Finally, the terminal doors flew open, and a very strange procession marched out into the fierce sunshine.
It was the nuns, with their habits and white wimples flapping in the breeze. They marched quickly, single file, across the tarmac.
And each nun, in her arms, carried a baby.
The nuns-with-babies marched up the steps into the plane, names were called out, hands were raised. And soon every baby was being cradled by its brand new mommy and daddy.
Now, the rest of the story is very fuzzy, probably because it would be almost impossible to describe the joy that must have filled that plane. If you could measure joy, if you could figure its weight, it would have been so big, so deep, so profound, our planet Earth must have surely tilted slightly on its axis that day.
But, Cathy said in a hushed voice, her friend had been very clear on one point:
Every single couple on that plane secretly rejoiced that they had received the prettiest baby in the group.
Each couple whispered to each other that their baby…
….that their baby…
… was the most beautiful baby in the world.
So it’s true. When your heart is open, wide open, fear and doubt will fall away. And the most powerful connections–authenticity…compassion…love–will already there.
Don’t you think that’s a miracle? I do.
That’s why art can be a miracle, too. When we make art from this powerful place in our heart, we will find other people whose hearts resonate with it. And that is a powerful connection. One heart speaks to another. A miracle.
P.S. At the end of our training session, we were asked to give the person next to us a blessing.
Here is mine for you today:
May you find such joy in everything you do in life, especially your art.
May you always have an open heart.
And may you always know, deep in your beautiful, open heart that you, as a child of the universe, as someone who brings your own special creativity to this world, at this time, in this place, may you know that to somebody, somewhere, you are the most beautiful baby in the world.
And may you know that somewhere in the world, your creative work has made someone else feel that way, too.