Filling hungry hearts

In my family, the humans are divided into those who are very, very private and protect every thought and emotion carefully, and those who are driven to share emotions and experiences. My mother, who is one of the private ones, has often told me it is a gift that I can pin emotions and experiences into words, stories that eventually makes sense, for those who cannot do it.

The flip side is, of course, that my drive to put words to experience, and then share those words, make the private ones feel slightly seasick. I’m currently engaged in a voice class, and writers nearly all have wounds–large or small–that come from a private (or “proper”) person attempting to stifle the writer who wants to EXPRESS EVERYTHING. Blue! Sex! Apples! Decaying body! Dawn! Incest! (And a big fat fly just landed on my coffee, trying to drink it all up–ick.) Working through some of those wounds can be enormously freeing, but it’s hard to get the idea across that the drive to do this is not an indulgence, but a calling.

Listening this morning to Krishna Das (while Leo the cat took his seat beside me, purring accompaniment) I was settling into a prayerful period and getting quiet so the day’s work might emerge a little more easily. This sometimes feels like a waste of time, really, that I should just get on with it, start writing already, but experience has taught me that even a ten minute meditative period at the start of a work day is a good thing. Like walking, it brings far more into my life than such a simple thing seems it should deliver.

As Leo and I contemplated the flickering candle flame, the words of Sri Hanuman Chaleesa penetrated my morning brain:

“Calling out to hungry hearts
Everywhere through endless time
You who wander you who thirst
I offer you this heart of mine.
Calling all you hungry spirits
Everywhere through endless time.
Calling all you hungry hearts
All the lost and left behind
Gather round and share this meal
Your joy and your sorrow
I make it mine”

I imagined a beautiful table, laid with a rich cloth and beautiful dishes of colorful food, and music in the corner, and hungry people coming in to eat and drink, their gray souls coming back to life. And I thought of my mother thanking me for a story she needed to read. I thought of the slim, well-tended woman who came up to me at a booksigning in Santa Fe and wanted to confess her sin of pouring milk over her husband’s car. I thought of the students in my current voice class, writing their way into accepting the call to do their own work, and how brave they are to wade in, to prepare the feast, to open themselves up to life and experience in such bold ways, letting everything in. See everything, even the ugly and painful. Be open to all experiences, all of them, uncomfortable and beautiful, painful and transporting. It’s part of the bargain we make before we show up on this plane, I think.

How lovely! Writing is like cooking, then, isn’t it? Feeding hearts and souls instead of bellies!

All work is holy. I’m thankful for accountants to put my finances in order, and my own teachers, and my sister the nurse, and CR, the computer wizard, who makes this communication possible. But each one must believe in the holiness of their own call, and then we are all enriched.

What satisfies you most about your own work?

4 thoughts on “Filling hungry hearts

  1. hb

    It’s funny, I’ve been told that I put emotions into words well too. When you can do that, explain your emotions and thoughts so easily, you forget that it’s a skill at all. I feel like I HAVE to do it not that I try to. Thanks for the post to remind me that nuturing the part of you that feels — the good, the bad, the extreme, etc. is totally worth it.

  2. We all dismiss the things we are shaped to do. It is totally worth it.

  3. Yvonne Erwin

    Barb, I was so taken by this post. Enchanted really. So much so that I had two of my dearest friends read it. And I’m saying I was a little bit forceful about it. When it came to the words of Sri Hunaman Chaleesa, they both stepped back and said, “you know, this is so you.” Loved it. Loved those words. Not for me in an ego sort of way but because I connected and I just knew, this is what is to be. Period.

    Writing is so like cooking. It’s chemistry and artistry and weaving and pulling. When I am in the kitchen, as I’ve said so many times, chopping and dicing and tossing into the pot, I am completely at home. I am complete. That’s the word, complete. When I finish my pages, I’m spent but utterly content. Again, I am complete. I’ve never known that sort of contentment (or completeness, as long as I’m saying that) in any other endeavor. What riches! Such a valuable thing!

    Today, I went to our Springfield Writers’ Guild meeting. I learned that one of our members, a woman I am so fond of, is moving away this fall, back to California. Wanda is at least 70 years old, and I couldn’t tell you her exact age, but I know she has past the 70 year mark. Wanda has been a friend, mentor and just a wonderful presence in my life for now two years and I am going to lose her. She says she cannot live with the humidity any longer, and after the last two ice storms, she’s finished. She also has a problem with her house as Bass Pro (ugh) bought up the property closest her her neighborhood a couple of years ago and when they built our new and wonderful (not) Wonders of Wildlife, the contractor messed something up and now everytime it rains, her house floods. And she does mean it floods. She’s currently got a lawsuit going with the City but it seems to be going nowhere. I will miss Wanda as she represents a freer, less inhibited lifestyle than what I have and she’s been so many places and has so much knowledge of writing and publishing and she’s taught me things I didn’t think I’d ever learn. I will miss her. Really, I think the poem could have been maybe more for her than me.

    So, anyway, here’s to Wanda and here’s to you Barb. That was beautiful.

    As to whether I am private or public, I am, I feel I’m a combo (no biggee size, this is what you get). With people I trust, I can be so open, they say, “hey, quit being so dang vocal, okay?” and with people I’m not, I tend to hang back and go with the flow and they say, “why don’t you tell us what you really think?”. Uh, well, is that being schizoid? I don’t really know. I know that my zodiac sign is Cancer, the sidestepping, moody, somewhat private little crab. I know that I am adaptable to situation and mood but I also know that I can be a powerhouse if that is what is required. So. Whatever it is, it really doesn’t matter to me.

    I suppose I’ve rambled on enough now. I just really believe writing is a recipe – test it, test it, test it. Adapt it, change it, add to it and find just the right flavor and texture. And then, when you find that perfect combination, you will be complete. What do you think, Barb?

  4. Oh thank you. You do feed the hungry hearts so beautifully. Thank you thank you thank you.

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