It doesn’t happen all at once. You won’t find the layers disappeared, the encasing removed, the shell wide open for everyone to come fondle the breathing, pulsating mass of raw heart-shaped flesh immediately.Instead, it starts with a crack. It starts with the first step, the effusion that expands deeper and wider like a hairline fracture gone untreated, except this time, every time you open a little wider, the air feels a little easier to breathe and you walk a little easier.
Effusion is a spring of water, but it begins with the tiniest trickle. It’s the drop of rain that comes down from the sky on the hottest summer day and you open your mouth to drink; it’s the half smile you offer the stranger on the subway even though you make it your practice not to talk to strangers but for some reason she looked like she was open to it, so you gave it.
It’s the extra phone call you make to a friend even though you’re tired and don’t want to talk to anybody, but you know he needs to talk so you just do it. It’s the item you slip into the grocery cart for a friend or family member; the text you send a coworker when going on a coffee run; the part of the salad you leave aside without tomatoes because your sister/lover/roommate just can’t abide by those vegetables.
Love is expansive and all-immersive, but to reach love, it takes opening that first crack in the heart before the entire thing can expand, like a hermit crab getting out of its shell.
When we can’t love; when we feel too encrusted by the world that we live in; when we know that we’re entrenched too deep in the dramas and struggles of day-to-day living and it’s too hard to even meditate or pray, let alone drop into a true awareness of Spirit day-by-day, that we open it with a small crack with the hope that the effusion it draws forth will open us completely wide.
We open it with a look past our own selves, with a look into the eyes of a stranger, the look that’s a mirror of the pain within our own selves. And we douse that look with compassion and we know that even for that brief moment, we’ve cracked it. Something, somehow, has started to open.
We open it with a tiny smile, a breath, a whisper. With a hand placed on a friend’s back so she doesn’t need to cry alone, even if you can’t imagine why she needs to be a crying. With a cookie left on the plate as a gift to the person who hasn’t had one yet, even though you think you deserve it more than they do. With a tear that slips from the eye and no snide remark follows as we allow the process to unfold and be as it is, with no judgement. With a moment of awe staring at the magnificence that is nature and thanking the universe for the glory of its being, without rushing to begin another task, another soul-crusting activity that disconnects us from the joy of living.
Of course, opening the heart comes with its own pain. When it’s so open that the raw pulsating mass within is exposed to all and sundry, it takes strength to keep it open even as it breaks, again and again. it takes determination to allow the expansion to happen, to heal the cracks that occur again and again with strong regenerated muscle tissue instead of pouring over the pain with off-the-shelf salves that cause more damage in the long rain, festering wounds with agitation and addiction rather than growing back the tissue with care and self-improvement.
But there are roads to achieving heart openness, there are bridges we can take to get to that point of full effusion, and it’s about taking it one step at a time.
It starts with the single crack, the hairline fracture, the first crack in the hatching egg as it kicks and headbutts its way outside of its existing cocoon, because it wants to grow up, it wants to get out, it wants to fly. Even when the womb is delicious and comfortable; even when it’s warm and safe; the nature of the living being inside wants to get out and be all it can be. To spread wings and fly.
So we open our hearts with words, with movement, with songs and with prayer. We express our innermost feelings even when we feel it may alter the perception of others around us, because it’s our truth and by speaking it, we clear the pathway for our hearts to burst open. We dance our truth and move outside the choreographed steps, because we know that our bodies contain the innermost wisdom that move us from stagnant soul-crusted beings in to the angels we truly are. We allow our voices to be heard and we open our eyes to the sight of another, and in that moment, the crack widens.
So we move from the crack to containing all that spills out so it doesn’t leave us entirely; and then when we can’t find love and our hearts won’t open anymore, we use compassion as a bandage to salve the wounds that start to show more and more. We have compassion on ourselves, we have compassion on others, and our fears start to slip away and our love grows and grows. Because we’re building it now with strength, we’re moving past self-doubt to have confidence in our ability to be the shiny lovely person we have the capacity to be, with a heart as big and open as the one right in the center of our chest.
So we are successful, and move to gratitude; with faith in ourselves and faith in the others around us; with knowledge we can’t get it done alone and with appreciation to the team and the surroundings that brought us here. And so, we find love as we express our gratitude, and start to bond fully with all creation and all beings around us. Love that is complete, love that is not pitiful but merciful; love that is not sorry but compassionate; love that is not self-sacrificing but expanding; love that is giving in order to receive.
And when we reach that level of love; when our kindness is incarnate and our compassion full; we have reached the level of love in expression that can only lead to a heart that breaks, and breaks, and breaks again – until it stays open.
Rishe Groner is the founder of TheGene-Sis.com, a non-denominational approach to spirituality and self-transformation based on feminine and Jewish mysticism. She is from Australia and lives in Brooklyn.