courage-the ability to stand by one's heart

courage-the ability to stand by one’s heart

what is strength? what is courage? what is honesty? what is authenticity? what is vulnerability?

big questions for a morning that’s beaming bright sun beams, causing tired eyes to wet with light tears. 

the french word coeur means heart. the word courage comes from this word-it means the ability to stand by one’s heart. but what does this really mean in a day and age where our hearts needs might not even be known to us, so buried are they, under the expectations of culture, materialism, production oriented addiction, practicalities, responsibilities.

angeles arrien talks about our four chambered heart. i know i have shared this story with some, but perhaps not all of you, and it was one of those moments that my breath stopped, the experience was so profound.

…when i was pregnant with this little miracle canyon, i got an ultrasound at about 8 weeks or so to check on the health of the baby etc. the technician and i were looking at the screen, watching the swimming and moving of the little babe inside me, when all of a sudden on the screen, i was looking at what looked exactly like a drawing of the medicine wheel. you know the one. it’s everywhere right now. a circle with a cross through the middle of it. startled, i asked the technician what we were looking at-i mean the medicine wheel was all of sudden on screen, floating around where my baby was. was i hallucinating? she responded-“oh that’s the heart!”

i looked again and realized we were seeing the heart transected from underneath, looking up into it so to speak. and it’s shape was literally that of the medicine wheel. while now it is just a story, in that moment it was a revelation. we carry the wheel inside us, in our hearts, in their very make-up, their structure.


and so, a little about the four chambered heart. the four chambers of the heart represent our open heartedness, our full heartedness, our strong heartedness and our clear heartedness.

if our hearts are not open, we have let the woundings of the world close it. it can be a terrifying thing, to walk this road at this time, with an open heart. if our hearts are not full, then we are not living in alignment with what has purpose and meaning for us. if our hearts are not clear, we lose our time and energy to doubt. we are unsure of our positionality. and if they are not strong, we have been weakened by our stories. obviously the teachings here extend way further, and if interested feel free to contact me about them. but for the here and now, let this suffice-are we walking with a clear, full, strong and open heart? am i?

in indigenous cultures, vulnerability implies strength, it shows that our four chambered heart is in full engagement. i find this profoundly dichotomous to what we in the west/north view as strength which is normally associated with hardness. in non-western cultures, it is suppleness, fluidity, acceptance, showing up that speaks to courage. it is understanding content, context and timing when we communicate. it is being fearful and doing something anyways. this has been big medicine for me. i had traditionally hardened myself to withstand what life threw at me. i figured the harder i was, the stronger i held on, the more i engaged, the tougher i was-well that’s what would help me survive the onslaught that is life these days. thing is, all that hardness just made stuff more difficult. it stuck me in old stories, in time and space, to rigid and firm judgments of right and wrong. nothing was clear when i was hard, other than the very obvious of how much i’d been hurt by life, literally toughened by it. and who likes tough meat?


i have recently come across a path in life that has appeared a few times on my road. it has always led to the same place-a place of wonder, of possibility, of love of the magnitude that mountains and rivers could be moved. and while this path has appeared off mine several times on this journey, it is one i have yet to be invited down. and so recently, as this opportunity has appeared, i took a step. what i wanted to do was leap for joy that this road had appeared again, rip clothes off and, arms flung wide, rip down it like opening a zipper quickly to receive a lovers touch. what i wanted to do was enter a bjork like state of living in a musical, with a flash mob following me, excellently choreographed to celebrate good times, come on!!!!!!! who me? flamboyant drama? what? it's true. but i didn’t. i took only a single step. the path is there before me. laid out amongst tall tree guardians, moss covered with hidden crystals guiding the traveller. but i only stand at it’s entrance. i am not afraid. but i am tired of pushing my narrative onto the world around me, so with this path i practice. patience. hope. joy. possibility. waiting. for a tug, a pull, an invitation? i’m not sure. i just know that to experience different outcomes, we have to try different methods. and so, instead of rushing, i take only a single step. wipe on, wipe off. sometimes this is the measure of true courage. sometimes the practice is standing by the heart. sometimes the narrative we want to write might not be the best that can be written. and so, standing by my heart, i wait, enjoying the breeze, the filtered sun through trees, the sounds of birds and bees pollinating, harvesting, in-joy-ing the waiting.

and so this morning, i send you all greetings of love and of courage. to take single steps towards your self, your goals, your dreams, your inspirations. those things that cause us to inhale and then exhale, momentarily aware of our breath, our life force. i call out to all that calls out to our hearts. an antelope call towards action. towards our dreams, towards our destinies. to explore the unknown, the mysteries, the invited and uninvited life experiences.  to create and craft and collude with spirit on our destiny plans and to be brave, oh so very brave, through continuing to love each and every one, on this here fine day. i salute your hearts friends! and your courage!