Rita Nakashima Brock, Journeys By Heart

Because the very existence of heart is basic to the structure of human life itself and is the basis of our being broken in relationships, we require connections if we are to acknowledge our own broken heart and be healed.  At the earliest part of our lives we are dependent on the loving power of others to nurture us.  Their failure to do so has serious consequences.  We are broken by the world of our relationships before we are able to defend ourselves.  It is not a damage we willfully choose.  Those who damage us do not have the power to heal us, for they themselves are not healed.  To be healed, we must take the responsibility for recognizing our own damage by following our hearts to the relationships that will empower our self-healing.  In living by heart, we are called not to absolve ourselves of the consequences of an inherited flaw. We are called to remember our own brokenheartedness, the extend of our vulnerability, and the depth of our need for relationships.  Hence we are called not to dependence on a power outside ourselves, but to an exploration of the depths of our most inner, personal selves as the root of our connections to all others.

…The self is an achievement of our relationality, structured in our existence from birth, as our ever-changing physical existence is a structured reality at birth. That ontological structure need not be seen as an essence of self that endures through space and time, but as the fundamental character of the self recreated in every given moment by both its relationships and a sustained recollection of its past.  Hence the self only exists in relationships as it focuses and structures those relationships.  The self, the heart, therefore is recreated continuously through feeling, connectedness, and memory.

Heart is our original grace.  In exploring the depths of heart we find incarnate in ourselves the divine reality of connection, of love.  The grace we find through heart reveals the incarnate graciousness, generosity, and love necessary to human life.  But the heart’s strength lies in its fragility. To be born so open to the presence of others in the world gives us the enormous, creative capacity to make life whole.  Yet such openness means that the terrifying and destructive factors of life are also taken into the self, a self that then requires loving presence to be restored to grace.  Finding our heart requires a loving presence who helps the search, who is not afraid of the painfulness of the search, and who can mirror back our buried and broken heart, returning us to a healing memory of our earliest pain and need for love.  This loving presence and healing memory carry the profoundest meanings of forgiveness and remembrance.

Finding our heart means remembering how we have been damaged.  It means facing the past squarely, ambivalent and whole, without nostalgia, without romantic heroes and heroines, and without numbness.  Nostalgia, romance, and numbness block memory and anger, both crucial avenues into heart.  Memory and anger open us to our fullest self-acceptance and deepest passions.