Lately, I’ve been watching the movie based on the beautiful book Eat, Pray, Love. What I love about that book/film is that it is such a heart-searching journey into human pain, healing, and redemption. We all suffer, fail, feel alone, and are betrayed and disappointed. But I really do believe that we suffer for a reason and a purpose, that we can rise up again, be made new, breathe, shine and enter into life as we never imagined we could.
Some of the conversations I found most touching took place between Liz and “Richard from Texas” at the ashram in India. Richard is that wise and loving Southerner we all get to meet at least once in our lives, if we are very lucky. Honest and funny to the core, he introduces himself by saying, “There are mosquitos in this ashram big enough to fuck a chicken flat-footed” and a few moments later shares a few pertinent details of his life, such as “My ex-wife thinks I changed my name to Mother-Fucker.”
In one scene, when Liz is mourning her divorce and the loss of her lover, he takes her out for a Thumbs Up, an Indian soft-drink five times as sweet as Coke and “probably laced with meth-amphetamines.” He tells her, “If you could clear out all this space in your mind that you use to obsess about your marriage and your ex-boyfriend, you’d have a vaccuum with a doorway. And do you know what the Universe would do with that doorway? Rush in! God, rush in and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed of. I think you have the capacity someday to love the whole world.”
I began to cry when I heard that. I thought, “What an amazing thing, to finally let go of all that shit and worry I carry around in my mind, to be able to love the entire world, to be filled with that much love.”
A dear friend of mine has been doing heartwork with me lately, an induction and practice she learned from her teacher, based somewhat on work that the late Brujoy of Laguna Beach used to teach. There are two exquisite pieces of music by Constance Demby that go with this work. The first is called “The Longing” and the second “Radiance.” My friend believes, and I believe, that if we keep opening our hearts, anything can be healed.
Sometimes God our Mother, God our Father must knock at the stubborn gates of our hearts over and over in order to finally reach us, helping us at last to see how much we are loved and what radiant and courageous beings we really are. I think this idea of heart’s surrender is intimately, powerfully, and sweetly expressed in John Donne’s “Holy Sonnet XIV: Batter My Heart, Three-Person’d God.” Whether you think of God as a divine heavenly being, the light within you, or as the face of the Divine Mother in nature, it’s all the same. On some level of our being, we can hear the call of our hearts and our longing for union.
Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’ and bend
Your force, to breake, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due,
Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearley’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,’ untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
What a super-human struggle it is to shut down our hearts, to keep out the universal love, the Radiance that longs to join with us, to free us. What a relief to finally say, “I surrender.”