The Poetic Nursing Heart

My call and xx What a special moment xx


My call and xx What a special moment xx

Poetry from the heart…

Imagine for a second being alone in the world, not this world as it is now of chaos and opposition, solution and love. More a time of survival. You are a species unaware if you are the only one of your kind. Making choices each day that seem so right but almost counterintuitive choices driven from quiet contemplation and notes formed from the heart strings. You have no tribe, no family each day is a hope and a love punctuated by challenge and fear. In desperation at night you sit in a place backed by a cave and you call. Amazed by the resonance echo but also in hope of a reply.

So I sat with a sense of HOPE and I called out, but on this day I heard a reply….

(Mazza 2017) states this in the poem “Hope”.

Hope is the belief

That one hand

Reaching to another

Can eventually

Touch the moon

Allowing the light

To guide us

Through the night.

For context and with poetry at the centre of making meaning.

‘I was reminded that poetry is wordless. The words are there as linguistic nudges to make space for the thinking and feeling to become’.

A few weeks ago both Louise and I were invited to a conference framed around sustainability and climate. We were all welcomed into a safe space and we each had the opportunity to share thinking. Sadly for me the rapid nature of the dialogue meant that by the time I had a chance to form a response we had moved two or three speakers. To a very different topic of theory being asserted with gusto.

I noted that often another attendee and I were suggesting the same responses of humility and good intent. (This was the faint reply heard drifting through the cold night air).

Meeting afterwards in the post-chat space and being the only two who seemed to need this space of decompression was wonderful. I spent time sharing a rarely shared madness of thinking, a compulsion of being, an infection of the soul, and a reality of the present space. To my humble surprise she understood and reflected the thinking with calm and beautiful eloquence. We agreed to meet again in a place that we trusted and could share our collective unconscious firework thinking.

So this small blog represents a call and response to a wonderful new heart friend (who has made this hatter very, very happy indeed)

I know this doctoral adventure is going to welcome challenges and new friends alongside fear and questioning. I can be sure as I have just had a zoom meeting with a wonderful heart-centred person Louise Livingstone who has become slowly and carefully aligned with her heart and has written her PhD from the heart as the first person. We danced together in literature her sharing the work of Jeffrey Krippal in ‘The Flip’ (2019) and the Gnostic classroom alongside the Neuroscience and Consciousness of Iain McGilchrist in “he Master and his Emissary” (2009). Me reflecting with ‘the cloud of unknowing’ and constructs of consciousness from my new book friend ‘Damasio’ and silent contemplation from Martin Laird (2019).

After a 30 minute conversation of re-connection we were at a point of healing and I became aware that the poem given to me by my supervisor Jonathan Barnes as a gift the day before was in fact for her. I recited it and I could feel the hearts thanks. She bowed her head and placed her hands together I, being simply the vessel, bowed my head in reflective response.

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:

Love said, you shall be he.

I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,

I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?

My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:

So I did sit and eat.

George Herbert

So we simply are. I look forward to what is ahead. As I have started a small tribe now. We are all independent of sorts with our own caves. But the relationships have a texture and a depth of the infinite present. So to take you back to that early man image. Now he sits with his back to the cave and he calls out at night greeted by a number of replies. The replies drifting as a lullaby on the night air and kissing him gently on his cheek as he drifts to sleep protected by a new brave community.

Butterflies on a flower

The response…

Thank you, Tom. Your sharing is deeply moving. Here is my response. Hope it’s okay ? Let me know what you think ? x

(This deep movement would be enough alone but what comes next is just like honey on the lips for the first time..)

I arrived in the online conference space several weeks ago, feeling increasingly overwhelmed and apprehensive. As time ticked by, more and more people joined the room. I smiled into my camera lens. Could people see me? Could they see my heart? How would they receive the voice of my heart? Would I be able to convey the heart’s words in the way that would do justice to the fathomless depths of the heart? Panic, fear…..then….I was speaking. My voice shook, I can’t really remember what I actually said. I could feel my heart pounding hard in my chest, letting me know that I was very much alive.

“It’s okay,” my heart says, “you’re doing great!”

For three years, during the course of my PhD, I developed a regular practice of settling into my heart – waiting in the stillness, patiently, reverently. Sometimes nothing would happen at all. At other times images flashed into view, while in another moment I would simply ‘know’. And, very often what I knew would not fit easily into a coherent sentence. Counter to the way that I was educated to develop knowledge about the world, throughout my doctoral research, the thoughts of my own heart in direct, living relationship with the world, came first. Direct, lived experience of the world as received by my heart, was passed to my discursive intellect for deeper reflection. In short, the world came into being through my heart.

“It’s okay,” my heart says again, “you’re doing great!”

Such kindness. Such compassion. Such openness towards my faltering steps towards sense-making of my experience of being human. Inside my chest, my heart unceasingly and patiently waits for me to share its thoughts and gestures with the world.

The conference passed by in a blur. I recall kind comments reaching out to me via the chatbox. One person in particular stood out. My heart noticed him immediately. Tom Delahunt. Note to self – I must connect with Tom later. Excitedly, I arrived in the chatroom following the conference. A few moments later Tom’s face popped up on the screen. Some people came and went in the chatroom, as Tom and I chattered away like old friends. My heart felt uplifted. I felt a deep connection. My heart connecting with another heart.

Flowing, emergent conversation. Poetry interweaved with shared experiences, thoughts, feelings, and of course, academic references! Reaching, grasping, into areas of the human

experience that were difficult to define. Returning to the heart. The heart that knows, that feels, that loves.

Archetypal psychologist James Hillman (1926-2011) lamented in his famous essay The Thought of the Heart and the Soul of the World (2007), that in our contemporary world we are bereft of a decent psychology and philosophy of the heart. As a cardiac patient for almost half of my life, I have known my heart intimately as a biological pump – physical illness has that effect on a person! However, I have also known – deep in my subtle heart – that the heart was so much more. So, on behalf of the heart, I took up the challenge; to get to know my heart, and through my heart’s teachings, re-imagine the heart for contemporary times.

While I understand Hillman’s lament, meeting Tom showed me once again (I’ve had many such moments throughout the past three years) that in our modern world are not actually bereft of a psychology and philosophy of the heart. We can all recognise true heart when we encounter it – through direct, lived, authentic experience in an open, respectful, kind and loving relationship with an-other.

Our hearts already know. They guide us daily to experience the world – unfailingly, unfalteringly, kindly, openly, compassionately, lovingly. All we have to do is re-member, and re-claim the deep wisdom and understanding that has been within us since the very beginning.

A birdsong can even, for a moment, make the whole world into a sky within us, because we feel that the bird does not distinguish between its heart and the world’s.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Louise Livingstone has recently completed her PhD at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her thesis title is: How can the thought of the heart offer effective ways of engaging with conflict? An imaginal and reflexive study. She is the founder of the Heart Sense Research Institute – Her work aims to re-imagine the heart for contemporary times; showing through research, contemplative action and nourishing dialogue how the heart as a focal point of compassion, love and kindness, and as an organ of perception and wisdom, is a valuable and vital ally in our world of increasing global challenges, injustice and inequality.

There is a small growing collection of wonderful alternative and creative thinkers within and being supported by Canterbury Christ Church University. The hope is to draw them together in a collective conscience to help think about new methods and different ways of thinking and being.

The Key

How we yearn to have,

Knowledge of the unknowable,

What pain when it comes to pass that,

It was never there to know,

It was the unknowing,

That was and is always,

The key.

If you feel blogcited, blogstatic, bloggy, bloggable, and would like to co-write or talk about you connection to the poetry community please Contact me. Love opens the creative and I am sending out the love.

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