I have a heart of stone, now.
On Tuesday I went beach combing with Theresa, my yoga guru for the retreat. I stacked rocks vertically on boulders and perched to watch wave crests and clouds flirt. Theresa, a central coast native, engaged in a beach ritual of searching for heart shaped stones. The rocky bottom and imposing currents off the California coastline can actually break rocks. We spent I don’t even know how long on that rocky beach that soaked my shoes just the day prior, all I know if we returned to our yurt village after dark and were positively famished.
On the hike to and from the beach we spoke of God, men, marriage, communication between sexes and zodiacs, love, and trials. We even discussed tantric and yogic philosophies such as reaction in life and reaction to poses — rather than react instantly and drop out of a challenging pose we should consciously quiet our minds and listen to the sensation in our bodies to either relax into the pose or modify it in a way that our bodies and minds can accept the posture. We talked about a reaction I felt to one pose earlier that morning and transitioned to an emotional reaction I had to stimuli just days before the retreat began… don’t you just love hindsight? Sometimes hindsight is ironic and at other times positively humbling. Even better, isn’t it a gift to be able to look at one’s self objectively and assess our own opportunities and flaws? Perspective can be grand.
I’m actually so grateful for each of the women who connected with me on this sojourn. Their collective feminine spirit was the medicinal dose that my suffering spirit needed. In a moment near the end of our journey on this retreat,when I was quite certain I was going to break, Theresa grabbed my hand and in it she placed one of her found heart rocks. I was hurting, and the angst I expelled earlier was starting to return – the walls were coming up again as I responded to a phone call received.This small, yet intimate gesture touched me so profoundly… so profound that my mind couldn’t even grasp the moment but my heart felt and understood. She didn’t want me to hurt, and she let me know in this gift that I was not going to be alone. I reminisce on my Confirmation retreat in high school when one of the youth leaders pulled me aside after I worked through a difficult reckoning and questioning of my Faith – he found a beautiful cobalt blue marble at one of the shops in town – and he let me know that as long as I held onto that marble I would never have lost “all my marbles.” 16 years later I still have that marble and I can remember the lighting, shadows, and heat from the sun on us as we shared that conversation and moment in Jerome.
This little rock… is a heart shaped rock. It is a heart of stone. Worn smooth and soft by the sea. This heart has weathered innumerable storms and has cracks to show for the journey. In a time in my life when I am already questioning my capacity for vulnerability and feeling, I am given an actual heart of stone. I now have a physical heart of stone so that my own does not need to be so hard. It’s as if this little rock can be my heart’s sculpture – as Dorian had his picture – but instead of aging and decaying from bearing all his nefarious, inhuman, and nearly sadistic sins toward humanity – my heart’s sculpture might bear the hurt, fear, and doubt born in mine so I can grow, and in the process polish and shine?