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A Healthy Heart

I get several daily inspirationals, some Catholic some not. All Christian. Religion has always been something to apologize for in my family. Religious participation was scoffed at.

Faith was something you hid.

Faith was scorned and shunned on a good day. On a bad day, it drew unfriendly fire. If you had found your Spark, you were careful to conceal it. If your faith was a blazing fire, you had to choose. Faith or family. Sometimes we desire (and need) this earthly world so deparately, we set aside faith to pursue acceptance, praise or love. Fortunately, He is always loving, always accepting and always forgiving. When we realize the emptiness of the earthly, He is waiting. In our disappointment and sorrow, He comforts. In our loneliness and rejection, He validates.

All of life is a journey and attainment of “enlightenment” requires balance. Balance means that all parts of our being need harmony. Long ago, my best friend asked me why I became an osteopathic physician rather than a traditional M.D. I wrote her my reasons. I made a very logical explanation of a very emotional and spiritual choice. It was a thoughtful dissertation. I often wonder if she has that hand-written letter. There are no digital copies of the arcane ink on paper, one-way missive that are nearly extinct in modern life. (Letter writing is a blog post for a different day.) But, considering the speed in which we live (by choice) it is easy to shed parts of ourselves. We dumb ourselves down to “get it all done”. We neglect a portion of our being because to tend to it is time consuming or feels selfish. We ignore the beckoning call to attend an old wound that jeopardizes our soul out of fear. We are willing to risk poisoning our blood because to deal with that wound means FEELING something. It can be messy.

 Today’s messsage from one of my inspirationals says this:

The mind takes in and processes information. But it remains, for the most part, indifferent. It is your mind that tells you it is now 2:00 A.M. and your daughter has not returned, for the car is not in the driveway. Your heart wrestles with whether or not this is cause for worry. The heart lives in the far more bloody and magnificent realities of living and dying and loving and hating. That’s why those who live from their minds are detached from life. Things don’t seem to touch them very much; they puzzle at the way others are so affected by life, and they conclude others are emotional and unstable. Meanwhile, those who live from the heart find those who live from the mind . . . unavailable. Yes, they are physically present. So is your computer. This is the sorrow of many marriages, and the number one disappointment of children who feel entirely missed or misunderstood by their parents.

Love demands our hearts. But if my heart is a shriveled thing, what do I have to offer? If my heart is stiff and inflexible, what then? If my heart is on the edge of failure, that I might need a literal or spiritual transplant, then my love is weak. My love limps. My love cannot sustain. It is dying.

Now, any patient has the right to refuse treatment. The tricky situation occurs when a patient is warned of their future and offered intervention, but they refuse. They refuse either out of denial or fear. If they are comfortable in their mortality and the finiteness of their life, then they can be “at peace” with their choice. But, what happens, when after years of ignored warnings and years of attempts by loved ones or doctors to effect a change, the patient FINALLY says….”Help me now! You must help me now! Why can’t you help me?” Sometimes it is too late. The heart is too far gone, too damaged and even if a perfect transplant donor was found the patient’s constitution is too fragile; the surgery would kill them. They are deemed a “surgical risk”. And no surgeon will take that risk. The patient….and usually their family….is counseled to prepare themselves. The end is near. This is the most impotent feeling for the doctors (and probably their loved ones) because they could not find leverage. They couldn’t save. And under the impotence is real anger at the patient. They chose to do nothing but now expect modern medicine to work miracles. Miracles happen less often than winning the Lotto, yet we all think we deserve one.

So we must tend to our hearts through out our lives. We usually don’t. We tend to our mind by going to school and getting an education. We get a job, we earn a paycheck. Maybe we tend to our physicality by exercising and eating healthy. We drink plenty of water and sleep well. We adjust the risk of alcohol and cigarettes and not wearing seat belts. We accept those risks. We might even go to church, follow the rules, say our prayers. But….do we tend to our hearts? Do we take ourselves directly to the Hand of God humbly and ask for healing, for knowledge, for protection, for LOVE? No one can carry my heart to God for me. Approaching God is an awesome thing. Terrifying. But like any one doing a true examination of conscience…it is the walk toward God that is harrowing. Standing before Him is pure rapture and absolute Grace.

I started walking about a year ago. Just walk Lisa….just walk. Don’t expect yourself to run a marathon. MOVE. Reclaim the physical part of yourself. I was too, too , too much in my head. The weird thing is that the physical (for me) is conjoined with my spirituality. Maybe that is the beauty of osteopathic medicine for me. The link between structure and function. Applied mechanics. Physics. Cellular biology. It is as beautiful as a ballet or a symphony. Learning gives me knowledge. Knowledge may bestow wisdom. I am not musically inclined. I am certainly not a conductor. I have no great ear for music. But….MY symphony is for my ears. And I am trying to find the right melody, the right harmony, the right tempo. Maybe it will sound like NOISE. But, I think I must attempt to put notes on paper.

We’ll see.

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