Faces and Hearts

There is a brokenness /out of which comes the unbroken/a shatteredness/out of which blooms the unshatterable. – Rashani

I’m reading a friend’s book: Losing Face by Kathy Torpie. I knew Kathy in Hawaii when we both lived and worked at Kalani Honua in 1993 and found her again recently through Facebook. A surprise and a gift. She uses the poem by Rashani in her book and relates the story of how she regained her face, shattered in an accident, and renewed herself after being hit head on by a drunk driver. She’s spent the intervening years since with surgeries and recovery.  

Here’s a sentence I underlined in the early pages: “Every day every one of us puts on a ‘face’ for the world, hiding the unacceptable from view.”

I began wondering why I often define myself as wearing many hats and changing them often, sometimes with blinding speed. And I wondered if by changing hats, I’m also changing the face I present.  Am I hiding something “unacceptable from view” with that action or have I simply lost track of which face goes with which hat?

The press and tumult of our lives right now often feels like being faced with a constant barrage of drunk drivers, but so far, no one I know has completely crashed and burned. I see it in the news: the Gulf Coast is being hit with a force so devastating and so big it may not recover for many years; men have died in the crush of mine accidents; people continue to sicken and die in Hati; earthquakes rumble around the world regularly; and Wall Street, acting like a drunken driver, is speeding its way into another crisis. 

It’s a daily gift to sit here quietly in the morning, beside my window, and gauge the day.

Although here’s an interesting realization – even in my writing I put on a face – the face of the spiritual blogger, the spiritual teacher. THE ONE WHO IS WISE. Well, that’s probably not necessary in caps, but you get the idea. Is that face any different from the one I live inside?

Years ago, when I could affect such things as face wrinkles, I noticed that frown lines were forming between my eyebrows. So when home, I stuck a piece of Scotch Tape between my eyes so I’d notice when I frowned and train myself to stop doing it. I managed to avoid deep wrinkles between my eyebrows that way, but I didn’t stop them from moving elsewhere.  But I also know, from looking at old head shots, that my eyes were more angry and frightened in those days than they are now.

I suspect the heart is where face begins. When a heart is happy and at peace, the face reflects happiness and peace. The converse is also true.

Kathy Torpie is far more physically courageous than I will ever be, and rather than telling her story again, I’d suggest you get her book, but what I know from a recent long phone conversation is that her heart is also peaceful now.  She entered her darkness and rebirthed. 

I don’t quite know what to call these days we live in although I know there’s a huge component of darkness and despair, fear and its attendant, anger; it’s often beyond knowing how one reaches to switch on the light and see emotions and fears clearly. But that seems to be our work each day: to focus on our heart and know the feeling in our heart is reflected on our face.

Dr. Oz, the famous heart surgeon, says there’s a ganglia of nerves that attach to a spot on the heart. Over many years, I’ve read spiritual teachers who have said the same regarding the heart chakra. In other words, both physically and energetically, the heart could be said to be our primary teacher. Listen to it. Breathe into it. Treat it kindly. Enter the darknesses that face you and allow your heart to lead you through.

Imagine the world we could make if our faces reflected a happy heart.


One thought on “Faces and Hearts

  1. kathy emailed and said, “Just read it. You might remember a place in the book when I lost feeling in my face and came to the realization that the face not only reflects to the outside world what is in the heart, but our facial expressions – the tiny nerves and muscles – feed back to US how we are feeling. Try smiling. It FEELS good. Try frowning and scrunching the eyebrows. It FEELS bad. For awhile I didn’t have that feedback. When I smiled it FELT like a grimice! I am so very grateful to be able to have my face communicate with me again as well as with the outside world.

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