from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Saturday, 13 October 2012

the holiness of the heart's affections

Nothing like a physical shock – say a heart condition – to wake you up to how uncertain life is, how unpredictable, how transient. I'm lucky in that generally speaking I have few problems with the notion of uncertainty: it rather suits my character and the way I have chosen to live to not have things too tightly pinned down, mapped out. Rather, when I was younger anyway, I feared that too much security or certainty would deaden or dull my creativity and spontaneity. I do still think that can be the case, but I am less black and white in my thinking these days.

Anyway, the upshot is that on the whole I roll with it. It's one thing that has really impressed itself upon me after all these many years of Zen practice, too: that we do better, we suffer less, if we accept that life really does offer few things of which we can be certain.

But a strike at the heart is – well, to the real core of things. Without a healthy heart function, life itself is in jeopardy. I'm clearly not meaning in any way to diminish other more serious conditions, but the heart under threat really does feel as if it undermines our very survival; and in my case the more so because the 'episodes' are unpredictable and my heart is erratic. This brings fear with it.

A few weeks in, though, and with some strategies – acupuncture (thank you my lovely friend, you know who you are), medicinal herbs, a very good diet, rest, relaxation and some interventive medicines on hand in case of need, I feel optimistic. Add to that list paying attention to the inner needs of heart and soul and I feel well supported.

And I have been thinking a lot about uncertainty, as I often do. And about what the heart needs – which in my view is not certainty, but care of the soul. I'm with John Keats – and if I'm repeating myself, apologies for my preoccupation:

'I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of imagination.' 


  1. Wishing you well, Roselle, and lighting a candle of healing for you. I know how the beating heart seems like the engine of life and a change or hesitation in its rhythm does strike at the core of things and cause fear.

    But trust your heart, nurture it, perhaps it is just telling you what it wants; it sounds as if you have been aware for a while of the need to change the pace of your life.

    Be of good heart...

  2. Thank you for your care, and the candle, Hilaire. Yes, time to walk the talk and listen to the story of my heart, and then act on it...! Rx


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