The broken heart

In the Gospels we read how Mary is told that her heart must be broken so that the secrets of many shall be revealed. To each of us will come a time when this happens – a rejection at work, the end of a love affair, sudden illness, or the death of someone close to us.  We have to endure the pain and the loss, learning from the experience. This in turn will enable us, when the time comes, to be able to respond to the needs of others. 


Easter eggs

Once, I was invited to take part in an Easter Egg-painting session. On my egg I painted the words ‘God is a broken egg.’ For the chick inside has no knowledge of the ‘without’, only the ‘within’. It is cramped in a tight, dark space and has no concept of the space and freedom that lie outside. Obeying a primal instinct, the chick begins to peck at the hard shell until it cracks, whereupon it discovers what lies beyond, and with it the freedom to fly. So it is in life; we constantly have to break the outer form in order to make a discovery and so move on. Only then can we embrace the totality of experience.

As Kaneko Shoseki observes in Nature and Origin of Man,

‘Let go of your fixed notions and feelings, indeed, let go completely of your present “I”. Original truth reveals itself only when we give up all preconceived ideas.’    



Faced with setbacks, disappointments, failures, tragedy even, we agitate to improve matters, whereas at such moments it is important to learn how to wait. The words, ‘At midnight noon is born,’ mean we cannot pre-empt the dawn; but if we wait patiently, then something new, perhaps in the way of an insight, will reveal itself. 


The wisdom of the East

The ancient teaching of synchronicity, that there is a pattern and a purpose to everything in the universe – including a world-wide pandemic such as Covid – is exemplified in the ancient Book of Changes which, if explored in the right spirit, always yields a thought-provoking answer. I recall once consulting it about a new project I had in mind. ‘The idea is good but now is not the time,’ came the sharp response!

Faced with sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles, one has only to ponder Hexagram 39. It states:

Difficulties and obstructions throw a man back upon himself. While the inferior man seeks to put the blame on other persons, bewailing his fate, the superior man seeks the error within himself and through this introspection the external obstacle becomes for him an occasion for inner enrichment and education.


At sea

From time to time we are blown hither and thither by inexplicable rages, fantasies, loves, lusts, animosities – so that we seem like a ship without bearings, adrift on a stormy sea. Much depends on our early upbringing and it may be that some form of analysis or therapy is necessary if we are to be able to understand and control our emotions. And, without fail, the simple practice of silent meditation will provide a way forward.



Hisham Matar, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, writes of,

‘the longing that I sometimes feel for prayer. It is like a space that is unattended, gathering dust inside me.’

He then describes a visit to the National Gallery and standing in front of the portrait of A Young Man at Prayer by Hans Memling:

‘The boy was making space, and in so doing he had inadvertently arrived at the farther reaches of himself … one who has arrived at the boundary of himself and, with cautious hope, is now looking in.’


Visiting the dying

I have been recalling how, when my friend Anne Powell, aged 95, was dying in the cottage hospital in Kington, Herefordshire, I used to go daily to sit with her for two hours. She lay there, eyes closed. I would say nothing but simply hold her hand and sit in total silence. At the end, getting up, I would make the sign of the cross on her forehead, and always at this moment she would open her amazing blue eyes, smile, then close them again.

I mention this as all too often visitors to the dying don’t know how to behave. Some talk in very loud voices as though the person they are visiting is stone deaf – driving everyone else in the ward mad! Or they talk endlessly about themselves. All we need do is to sit quietly and be. If our friend wants to speak, we listen and respond as needed; otherwise we just hold them in the Silence.


The Kabbalah

The practice of meditation goes back many centuries and is found not only in Buddhism. It is interesting that the Kabbalah, the ancient mystical tradition of Judaism, recognising the conflict between the opposites in each of us, recommends the practice of meditation as a way of integrating them. 


Letting God in

Once we have overcome our difficulties with the word ‘God’ and learned to let God into our lives, the result can be dramatic. We may be faced with illness, a failure, a setback; but if we wait patiently and allow God to work within us like yeast in a loaf of bread, then the problem is resolved in its own way. We have but to let God in.