open the heart in hell

  terrorist attacks at concerts, on bridges, in marketplaces

grenfell tower

burning apartment blocks floods and famine war and disease and contaminated water earthquakes and monsoons

how to hold the suffering in the world without closing my heart, without hardening my mind into ignore-ance?  can i see suffering as a gift?

i can see it thus only when i recognise that suffering is part of what it means to be human. i cannot separate my human-ness from the experience of suffering, my own and that of others.

it is the fear of the pain in heartbreak, and the vulnerability that comes with heartbreak, that closes the door to my heart. when i can acknowledge that suffering hurts, when i can remain present even as my heart shatters, i have a different quality of being.

as i experience my ageing body and mind, and open to the death, i come face to face with the unbearable, with hell. i come face to face with fear and grief, terror and tears. the existence i once thought would be unchanging and fixed is no longer. the life i envisioned as continuing forever isn't continuing in the same way.

and yet, here i am, in this moment, in the reality of who i am now.

in the now i can open to compassion for myself and for others. in the now i can experience the gift that is suffering, even if it seems otherwise, even if the pain of it seems unbearable. in the now i can hold my personal suffering as an opportunity to see how my mind clings to the past, to the flexible, thinner, younger, more active me. in the now i can see the ageing me with love.

all of this comes to pass only if i am willing, only if i can surrender to the truth of the now. i will, most likely, become feeble and dependent. if, at that time, i am not at war with myself, not at odds with that reality, i can imagine the experience being beautiful and filled with the radiance of each present moment.

when i can let go of my image as a separate entity, a person unconnected to the whole of life, i can allow another to give to me, to care for me. i can remain dignified even in what is often thought of as undignified circumstances. i can imagine being present to the pain.

hell has become heaven. death is filled with life. life is filled with death. the heart breaks, shatters into shards

and light flows in.      broken heart with light