Hearts on Fire

Please, sit here with me for a few minutes, as the world burns.

Take a big, deep, lung-filling inhale. Exhale it with a heavy sigh. Inhale slowly and deeply again. Sigh heavily again. Big inhale.

Heavy sigh.

The system is broken. For so many reasons. Historical power structures. Toxic masculinity. Separatism. Racism. Misogyny. Queerphobia. Extremism. Ignorance. Indoctrination. On and on and on…

Of course, a lot of people want to fix things. But things are so screwed up in so many different ways that the task ahead seems insurmountable, and the discourse runs off track every time.

We get lost in semantics and don’t know where to start. Every situation becomes a moral situation, or a political situation, or a bureaucratic situation. It’s a police problem. It’s a gun problem. It’s a mental health problem. It’s a climate problem…

But at its core every single situation is a human problem. Brought about by humanness, and only solved by humanness.

Take a deep inhale. Exhale with a sigh.

Humanity. Sometimes, along the way, humans lose sight. By putting people into separate boxes, by categorizing others, we lose sight of their basic humanity.

Perhaps sometimes we put ourselves into boxes, and we even lose sight of our own humanity. ‘I’m a cop.’ ‘I’m a freedom fighter.’ ‘I’m a failure.’ ‘I’m a social justice warrior.’ ‘I’m exhausted and apathetic.’

Sit here with me. While fires are burning.
I know it seems counterintuitive to sit still while the world burns. But sitting still is our firefighting boot camp.

So sit still.

Imagine an open heart. Imagine your heart softening. Imagine all walls around your heart coming down. Allow your heart to be completely open to everything that is going on in the world. To all events. To both sides-, to all sides.

We resist because it’s painful. It is scary because it’s vulnerable.

Sit with vulnerability. Sit with your discomfort. Sit with your insecurities.

Think of others. Pick someone you know who is hurting in some way. Sit with their pain. Sit with their hurt, their heartache, their illness, their fears. Sit and deeply breathe it all in. Then breathe it out.

Inhale their story and allow it to flow through your lungs, your heart, your veins. Let it move deep into your brain and get under your skin. Sit with their hurt, their anger, their confusion. Let it move into your body, and make it yours for a while. So that you can understand the sameness of the feelings. Connect to it so that you can deeply feel their humanity. So that you can move forward in solidarity with a real and deep sense of understanding and compassion.

Inhale big. Sigh bigger.

Imagine breathing in the pain that Tyre Nichols’ mother feels as she watches her son being brutally beaten. As she hears him yelling, screaming, for her. Breathe in the human feelings. Feel her pain. Send her compassion and love and healing on each exhale.

Sit with her feelings as if you could make them your feelings. Breathe for her, so that she might find the energy to move past this. So that she might have the strength to work for justice for her son. And maybe, eventually, so that she might forgive the inhumanity of this.

Big inhale. Big sigh. Sit with your feelings.

Stay with me now.

Breathe in the anger of those police officers, the adrenaline, the testosterone, the conditioning that was flowing their veins. Breathe in those human feelings. Let them move through you. Breathe in their denial, their regret, their shame. Allow yourself to feel their humanity.

Send them compassion on the exhale so that they might move past this and learn from it. So that their hearts might open to vulnerability, and truly turn. So that they might wake up to realize all that led them to this situation. So that they might find a way to do the necessary work to repair the broken systems they have been moving in. Once and for all. Feel their humanness, and send them compassion.

Big inhale. Even bigger sigh.

This is the practice. Inhale the pain and suffering of the world. Exhale the strength to move forward.

Inhale the weight of the world. Sigh, and release it. Gently. Justly. Righteously. With compassion for all beings who navigate these broken human systems on the daily.

As you practice you will feel things. If your heart is open it will break and mend 1000 times. But that is what hearts do. And that is how the heart-muscle gets stronger.

Inhale, exhale. Break and mend. The heavier the weight it can bear, the stronger it will become.

We need more folks moving through the world with well-trained hearts. We need more folks moving into each and every human interaction with compassion, openness, vulnerability, and strength.

The weight of the work to be done is so very heavy. Big inhale. Big sigh.

Tyre Nichols. May he rest in peace. I haven’t watched the body-cam footage. I’ve only watched his skateboarding videos. And here is a link to Tyre’s photography.

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