Monday, April 22, 2019


I have learned to appreciate and even relish a level of uncertainty, unknowing, and confusion.

I do so because of the number of times I have felt these uneasy energies, stayed with them, and then saw what miracles have flowed forth from them.

In anthropology this is often referred to as liminal space. It is the time and perspective that is in-between what has been, and what is not yet coming into being. Something has ended or died, and nothing has yet to begin or be born. This space is, in essence, empty. It is void. It is a vacuum.

It is also, like we are learning about black holes, filled with endless possibility. It is limitless potentiality. It is brimming with a cosmic genius.

For this genius to come forth we must be able to tolerate seeming emptiness. We must give space to this spaciousness. We must mature to a point where we do not rush to fill the vacuum.

This is, for most people, easier said than done.

This potentiality reads as a kind of tension. It is a subtle kind of stress that many seek to subdue and deaden. The tension comes from the intolerability of a deep level of unknowing. The surface mind wants to know. In fact, this level of mind knows itself by what it thinks it knows. It is content identified. To not know is to not exist.

The subtle but disturbing fact behind this is that if the mind must know it is always depending on the past. On what has already been known. Even if the past knowing has been painful at least it is thought to be certain. There isn’t ambiguity. Memories are known objects in the mind. As objects we think we have control over them.

The problem is that they have control over us.

So, over the years I have come to experience times of great unknowing. I have allowed myself to settle several times into liminal space and the result has always been fruitful. I have grown increasingly friendly with unknowing and uncertainty. This friendliness has eased the tension I once felt and resisted. For me this ease is equal to an overall sense that life is for me. That when I can loosen my grip on the past and the demand to know what will happen next and when something begins to stir and grow and unfold that is greater than what I could have made happen.

I also call this liminal space waiting.

Not waiting in the typical sense. I am not waiting for anything in particular. It isn’t time-related. There is no impatience. It is more a sacred waiting for something to move and to emerge. To be made clear. To unfold from me. If I can stay and wait, I know good will come forth. I have no need to know what that will look like or when it will occur.

I am content in the waiting.

And so as I have shared with my readers I will be having open heart surgery the latter part of this week. I have been winding down my work responsibilities and have been spending time handling the logistics that demand attention before I am forced into a certain level of liminal waiting come Thursday.

I have never experienced this kind of medical adventure, and I am not at all drawn to research what may or may not occur. I am clearing space in my calendar and in my life-details so that I may be become quiet, watchful, and curious. I have been experiencing sometimes severe symptoms, and a certain level of health and vitality has died for me. I have no idea what lies on the other side of this somewhat radical surgery. I assume I will survive, and I do not know that to be the case.

There is a lot of unknowing.

I am all about making room for that. I will be signing off email and suspending my social media accounts. I want to make ample space to simply sit in the waiting. I want to notice every nuance that happens for me. I do not want to miss what is seeking to get my attention during this process. I am seeing this as a somewhat forced health sabbatical.

While I am not at all looking forward to the physicality of what is going to occur, I am hopeful about what I will find when I make space for a new unfolding. What I will find in the space between illness and health. Anxiety and emergence. The unknown and clarity.

And so I am dwelling peacefully in the in-between. I am waiting and I am curious. I trust that this waiting will become knowing. And so I breathe and I allow the liminal to become luminosity.

Everything is possible in the waiting.

Friday, April 19, 2019


Sometimes an impact is so sudden, so unexpected, so jarring, so severe that the automatic closure of the reptilian brain seems somehow to be circumvented.

This has occurred for me only a few times in my life. It has taken two predominant forms: great love, and profound suffering.

I have found that both of those energies are equally as scary. I know that most would argue with the validity of that statement. But in my experience, we humans are as afraid of deep, intimate love as we are uncontrollable, profound suffering. And the two of those are far from unrelated. Deep, intimate love can lead us to uncontrollable, profound suffering, and in fact, often does. Anyone who has loved deeply and lost that love suddenly certainly knows that. Therefore, we fear them equally.

Inherent in loving fully is the risk of suffering deeply. For me, the love is worth the risk. Not that I don’t flinch. Not that I am not tempted to close or to withhold. Not that the temptation is to timidly wait until the other ventures first into the vulnerable expression of “I love you.”

Not that as a result of choosing to love you I won’t suffer. I well might. But I have learned to take and to even welcome that risk.

So, the current sudden, unexpected impact took the form of a diagnosis. It was for me both jarring and severe. While I am surrounded by a chorus of “you’ll be fine” I am committed to entertaining all the possibilities. A curt “fine” does not feel open to me. It feels far more like a subtle form of closure. And one of the gifts that has already flowed forth for me is that the impact of the news has not led to sustained closure. It is one of those miraculous moments when impact leads to expanded awareness and inexplicable openness. And I am fully committed to maintaining that state of openness throughout this adventure.

I feel vulnerable and sensitive. I feel defenseless. I sense a great unguardedness. I feel the likelihood that I will live, and the possibility that I could die. And I feel a deep willingness to welcome it all.

I lived so many years armored up, unconsciously expecting to be hurt. What I am about to face will in fact hurt. There will indeed be pain. There well may be suffering. I am facing those realities not with dread, but with acceptance. I am not looking forward to this. I am not a masochist or a martyr. But as the day draws nearer, I am devoting myself to staying open and undefended to whatever course this may take. Whatever pain will be involved. Whatever complications may or may not arise.

I am willing to meet this suffering with great love.

This health challenge is not an enemy to be conquered. It is not a dragon to be slain. It is not a call to suppression or denial either. I am meeting this face to face, and quite literally heart to heart.

There are many who simply do not deal well with suffering. Theirs or someone else’s. I so totally get that. And I ask you to stand back. I appreciate you remaining still about how I choose to move through this. If you truly care about me than let me be. I will welcome you back when this storm has passed.

Those who want to move a little closer I ask you to hold me in your heart and know that I fear not the suffering. I fear not the pain. Say little and hold me in great love. I am someone who in times like these does not want people in proximity. I do not want a stream of visitors. It is just not who I am. Interpretations of that are not helpful.

While I am in suffering simply hold me in love. I am pained, but I am open. My body is weakened but my spirit is strong. I will come through and out of this more open and honest and giving than I was when it began.

And that increased openness is worth any amount of suffering that may occur.

Friday, April 12, 2019


The room was astoundingly bright and bone-chillingly cold. There was banter and chatter, some directed at me yet somehow not to me. I was told to move from gurney to procedure table. In doing so I went from being me to being an object to be examined and explored. The words coming at me became less and less personal. I could feel myself disappearing among cloths, wires, instruments, and tubes.

The medical personnel in the room were friendly yet detached. I was moved about and positioned and poked and I was prodded. As the outer became less personal my interior became more and more intimate and alert and spacious. I remained centered in a compassionate awareness of what it must be like to do this critical and even dangerous testing day after day. To be faced with people in fear and in trauma. People with vast histories and storylines and loves and with losses. People who do not know whether this is just the beginning of the end. People who do not know whether their entire life experience will be changed in the course of a short and devastating diagnosis. Delivered with an equal amount of deference. Of subtle indifference. Of survivable detachment.

I was exposed both emotionally and literally. Lying naked under the bright cold lighting, with only a far from private privacy towel held precariously in place, I was as defenseless as I have ever been. I had not been medicated and so I was left to feel that defenselessness, the exposure, the objectification. The raw, complete nakedness.

The nakedness.

Even as the banter continued, I knew this experience was going to be all about how I chose to talk to myself as I was in it. How I chose to either remain open or to armor up. How I internally attended to those who were at least physically attending to me. How or whether I would choose to stay open in a situation I so wanted to close to. To run from. To scream at. To escape.

As a second IV blew in my arm and the third was being attempted I could feel something rising within me that was like a tsunami of something that absolutely needed to happen. Searing pain coursed through both arms which were held down by restraints. My entire body was anchored down so that there could be no movement to interfere with the delicate testing. While there could be little physical movement the flow that was seeking to happen could not be avoided or suppressed.

I began to cry.

For a moment I was horrified. I was embarrassed. I wanted to hide the tears, mostly for the sake of those attending to me.

It could not be stopped.

For the first time the room grew momentarily silent. There was hushed talk regarding the unstable vitals of that person on the table. The objectified became in a Nano-second personalized. The 9:00 a.m. scheduled heart-catheterization became a person that was in pain. A man that was in tears. A fellow human being to be compassioned. A heart to be entered and consciously, tenderly attended to.

I shamelessly allowed the tears to flow. I opened to let myself experience the totality of the experience. I held my own heart and leaned into my own pain. The more I allowed the internal flow the more I was able to consciously relate to the others in the room. I was sensitive to their pain as well. To the rude awakening of another’s tears being a radical call to increased sensitivity and mindfulness.

After the test there was a systematic undoing of all that had been done in preparation. It is likely that it was mostly me, yet the quality of activity seemed somehow different. The interacting more direct and personal. The touches more tender. The nakedness more respected. The person more seen and experienced.

I write these words and describe this experience very aware that it will be read and interpreted in a myriad of ways. It will be commented on from various levels of consciousness and from varying levels of comfort with pain. If you have difficulty with your tears mine will be intolerable. If you cannot endure your own pain, you will discount and minimize mine. If you fear defenseless, exposure, and nakedness you will recoil from what happened for me.

And yet I write. And yet I expose. And yet I allow my deeper being to be real and raw and true. I am grateful to express for the pure experience of letting myself freely express. Of letting my tears be seen. Of letting my heart be felt.

Just as in the glaring and stark coldness of that impersonal sterile medical procedure room I am no longer afraid of being freely and fully seen. I am not afraid to cry. I will not be shut down in fear of being judged or commented upon. That cost has grown to high.

And if my transparency encourages just one of you to let down your guard and let your tears flow then the pain I moved through will well be worth it.

Saturday, April 6, 2019


There is spiritual theory, and then there is spiritual reality.

In order to have theory become reality there must be direct experience. A spiritual concept will live in the head and have no real impact. When life in some way pushes a theory will fail you. Every time.

When life is pushing and the theory fails, in that failure is a glint of possibility. Depending on what you do with that failure it will either be buried in denial or integrated via direct experience. Leaning away the lesson is left to be recycled. Leaning in, a vague theory becomes a felt-reality. What you suspected to be true becomes a living truth. It becomes real and vital and sustainable. Every time.

For over twenty years I have talked about and deeply practiced the supremacy of the open heart. I know it to be the portal through which Source flows and our Souls flower. When spiritual theory is literally dropped down into the heart-center that theory becomes, via direct and intimate experience, a living reality. It is no longer a theory. It is a certainty.

Perhaps the most challenging part of developing the capacity to live with an open heart is that is requires a deep and consistent level of defenseless and vulnerability. Much like the rhythm of the physical organ every closure of the sacred heart is but an invitation for reopening. Sustained energetic closure will prevent the openness needed for the spiritual flowering to occur. The heart becomes congested and emergence becomes stifled.

What prevents a persistent level of heart-openness is unresolved emotional wounding. The fear of repeated hurt results in defensiveness and closure. This wounding is largely precognitive and is not integrated by repeated story telling or increased theory. This woundedness is healed and integrated in one way: it is felt.

This feeling process takes courage and it takes patience. It requires a level of simple staying presence that is uncommon in our culture today. This is not a cognitive process. You cannot integrate what is precognitive by repeatedly talking about it. This is pure, felt-sense, compassionate exploration. This exploration becomes the direct experience in which spiritual theory becomes spiritual reality. Like it or not, our spiritual reality is just on the far side of emotional fluency.

This is not accomplished with the head. This is indeed an adventure of the heart.

Which brings me back to the supremacy of the heart.

One of my chief spiritual practices for many years now has been to remain keenly aware of my heart center and to the degree of openness or closure that is happening in my present moments. Heart-centering has radically transformed my experience of prayer and of relationship. These practices have taken me deeply into my interior. I have faced the pain and darkness of a lifetime. While it has been far from comfortable it has been remarkedly rewarding and liberating. I have learned what leads me to closure and I have been led to courageously choose reopening. I am a different person as a result of this work. It is the foundation of my life and of my ministry.

And now life is taking me even more deeply into the adventure of wholeheartedness.

Contained within the portal of my mostly open spiritual heart is an organ that is increasingly and dangerously malfunctioning. In order to restore my physical heart, I will soon face the reality of open-heart surgery. Part of what the surgeon will be doing is replacing the aortic valve, restoring the natural flow of blood in and out of my heart.

While this is relatively new information the effects of the disorder have been increasingly difficult to deal with for quite some time. I cannot with any level of authenticity say that I am okay with what is about to happen. I am not. Yet.

I am approaching this with the same level of heart-devotion that I have been practicing for all these years. I am staying attentive and non-attached to how others are reacting. I am leaning into all the nuances that are moving within me. I am asking deep and personal questions of myself. I am not interested in why this happening. I am only interested in the fact that it is happening. I am committed to learning everything I can about myself in this process. I am devoted to gleaning every bit of good from this adventure. I am dedicated to being more on the other side of it. To living and loving and serving more. To being even more of a heart-troubadour. This will be an expansion of my platform and my ministry.

The success rate of these procedures is high. And it is not 100%. I am taking time these days to lean into that possibility. If these were to be the final days and weeks of this lifetime how will I choose to show up in them? What am I most called to express? What is it that would be left undone, ungiven? Who would it be hardest to say good-bye to? What have I yet to forgive? What do I want my legacy to be?

What do I want my legacy to be?

This process is leaving me to feel incredibly sensitive and vulnerable. I go through weepy moments. I feel even more open than usual. I am grateful for that, and I am employing nothing that would deaden or disengage me. I am truly pondering all these things in my heart. It may be physically leaky, but it is spiritually engaged, open, and perfect.

There isn’t a lot of theory left for me. God has become a living reality. It is for sure a direct experience. I live It imperfectly for sure. Sometimes there is a slush-back of my attempts to flow forth as love. Sometimes my closure is more prolonged than at other times. But reopen I do.

Reopen I do.

With every heartbeat that is remaining, I devote myself to being the reality of love. Being anything else is just too painful.