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Making our Hearts Bigger

Making our Hearts Bigger

There have been so many terror attacks recently, this time in places not as internationally beloved as Paris. Despite the dearth of sympathy on social media, I am in danger of growing numb.

So I imagine I could be a Hindu priest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, picking flowers for a ceremony I am going to conduct. I could be shopping with my family for new clothes for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration marking the end of Ramadan in Baghdad, Iraq. I could be on pilgrimage, for which I’ve prepared my whole life, to a holy site in Medina, Saudi Arabia. I could be from any place in the world going to any place in the world, catching a flight at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey.


I think of the people, just trying to go about their daily lives to take care of their families, to do good work, to worship as their souls direct. I think of the people. They could be us. We could be them. And so I cry. Thankfully not numb, but so full of feeling for all of us on this precarious journey.

Their suffering is ours. Can we expand our hearts to feel this? Or are our hearts only big enough to feel the suffering of people who look like us, worship like us, speak our same language, have our same skin color?


©UNESCO. Tolerance Flag. “Spiritual Globe” by Robert Rauschenberg.
©UNESCO. Tolerance Flag. “Spiritual Globe” by Robert Rauschenberg.

With his flag, a global map in the form of hearts, Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925, US), leader of contemporary American art, wanted to underline the spiritual dimension of tolerance:
“The globe opens out and becomes a heart resembling the hands Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which unite the creator to his creature. This heart asserts itself as a spiritual organ setting the tempo of life on earth.”

Here’s a way to grow our tender broken hearts bigger. Imagine the epicenters of suffering around the world. Bathe those areas with love: airdrop blessings, shower with spangles, or send the most exquisite colors.

Envision cooling waters soothing the fires out of control. Imagine irresistible love and belonging quelling bloodlust born of fear of not having a place here.

Imagine art and music and dance and theater that speaks universally. Imagine the beauty.

Imagine strangers falling in love despite/because of differences, making big complicated families. Imagine them sharing dishes and traditions down a long, crowded table.

Imagine kids from all backgrounds kicking a soccer ball or playing tag. Imagine them learning to reflect and respect themselves and others.

Imagine your heart grown large enough to feel safe. Imagine your biggest anti-terror weapon is love. It is.


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Healing Quotes

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– E. M. Forster

“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them…life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”

– Gabriel Garcia Marquez

“The next message you need is always right where you are.”

– Ram Dass

“Grief is not a task to finish,
And move on,
But an element of yourself –
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing,
A new definition of self.”

– Barb Mather

“It’s time again. Tear up the violets and plant something more difficult to grow.”

– James Schuyler

“Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become love. That is the mystery.”

– Katherine Mansfield

“Joy moves always to new locations,
the ease of its flow never freezing.
A long winter’s tale is over. Now
with each spring day, a new story.”

– Rumi

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty YES to your adventure.”

– Joseph Campbell

“Now is the moment, Here is the place of Liberation.”

– Alex Grey

“We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution.”

– Bill Hicks

“Don’t run away from grief, o soul
Look for the remedy inside the pain.
Because the rose came from the thorn
And the ruby came from a stone.”

– Rumi

“Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.”

– W. S. Merwin

“The absolute tranquility is the present moment. Though it is at this moment, there is no limit to this moment, and therein is eternal delight.”

– Hui-Neng

“In order to be a good warrior, one has to feel this sad and tender heart.”

– Chogyam Trungpa

“Our only security is our ability to change.”

– John Lilly

“There is deep wisdom within our very flesh, if we can only come to our senses and feel it.”

– Elizabeth A. Behnke