Open the door to your heart and step outside! This is the voice I heard so clearly after returning from my morning walk with Jasper. I posted earlier that I was working to be more in presence and open to the miracle of the serendipitous encounter and guess what? We had one!
On the way through the park now closer to the lake I noticed a person lazing in the grass with a huge dog. On the way back towards the car I noticed the same person now sitting on a bench with her dog close by, we moved on and sat for a little while in the shade of the large poplar trees. A few moments later the woman and her dog approached I don’t know how the subject came up but her (very large) puppy drew close to me and on his neck was the most painful rash. The vet had given the dog medication for fleas which had the most horrible reaction on his skin. I felt like throwing up looking at the skin which was red raw. It was obvious that as her dog drew closer he was in a lot of pain and very distressed. He rubbed against me and I felt as though he was almost trying to jump inside my skin. At the same time he had a sad look on his face, almost as if he was saying to me “look what they did to me”.
“Its the way of vets these days, sadly”, the woman said to me. “It’s all about money and chemicals.” Welcome to the modern world. I was telling her how last week when Jasper tore his dew claw and was in a lot of pain I let him be and let him free just to rest with it and lick it until it felt better. I was a little anxious at the time but after about four days it came back right as rain. I had not tried to interfere with the natural healing process. I also told her of how this had triggered earlier memories of when the dog we had when I was a teenager that I pleaded and pleaded to own, ended up being hit by a car and would run behind the sofa to hide while Dad tried to give her medicine. We eventually gave Sasha away.
From this one small opener we had the most wonderful, heartfelt, connected conversation which ranged across so may subjects and most especially about the special connection between humans and dogs which takes us into the magic of the present moment. On this occasion it was our dogs that had connected us and we ended up having so much in common.
Maria had just moved recently to my home town from a town due north due to a cyclone. She was telling me of the difficulties she was experiencing in a place which we both find very stitched up and conservative. Her background was from Austria and she then went on to share with me some of her ideas about the impact of migration, the difficulties we have in Australia due to it being a colony founded on convict labour, full of shame and judgement of how hard it was moving here when she was young. And it strikes me that even though we were sharing all of these painful things in the present moment we were safe, happy, relaxed, connected. What a blessing!
I learned that Maria is an art therapist, she wants to work with returned soldiers or those who have been traumatised by war. These are two subjects dear to my heart. I was able to share with her that on Saturday I had opened a local magazine that spoke of a man whose plan is to use various forms of art therapy and expression to help those who have undergone trauma. I was able to share this with Maria and promised to drop the article by later on. We had both opened our hearts to each other and made a new friend.
On the way home I was listening to a song by Sinaed O’Connor and heard the following lyrics: “thank you for breaking my heart, thank you for tearing it apart, now I’ve a strong, strong heart, thank you for breaking my heart”. I also thought of the movie Must Love Dogs in which the character played by John Cusack shares his theory about painful breakups. He says that he thinks that maybe the purpose of having our hearts broken is so that they can open wider. I am not sure how true this is as some of us chose to shut and lock the door of our hearts closed even tighter at times after they have been hurt. Maybe just like Jasper we need time to retreat to lick our injuries and allow them the natural time to heal but I do feel the true healing comes when we can open to others and be fully received.
Further reflections I had were this. Maybe as a young child our heart is just naturally open, like that of a dog. Over years how our heart is treated impacts how much we can tolerate or stay in this naturally joyous and all feeling open hearted state. The wounds to our heart and our anger or rage or fear show where our thwarted need for love left its deep scars. Maybe for some of us opening up our hearts to love means raging and living deep within the painful tortured fire of this wounded place for some time.
But I do believe that there is always a possibility of leaving this tortured place in time, opportunities to open the locked door of our hearts and step out into a brand new day of sunshine. Along the open hearted road we have the opportunity to meet those who with their own hearts, broken or whole are also taking the risk to open to hope, to purpose, to meaning, to connection, to healing and to love.