Category Archives: Heart

Heart: Arriving with an Imperfect Crust


Pie crusts plague me.  The very thought of creating the properly textured blend of flours, salt, fat, and liquid breaks me into a sweat.

Yet pie speaks irresistibly. Its geometry asserts wholeness and the union of pieces.  Its sweet and savory fillings — chilled, set, steaming — draw friends and family around tables through the seasons.   Nourishing.   Encouraging conversation.  Who can resist this satisfying togetherness?

Not I, even with my crust-making phobia.

In October I agreed to co-host(ess) a neighborhood pie potluck.   Suddenly the challenge of patting together a passable crust — preferably low in sugar and gluten –was sitting front and center in my kitchen.  Over three weeks, I practiced and tested, eventually settling on an almond crust, easily pressed into a 9-inch pan.

In this experimental process I nearly surrendered the unifying spirit of the pie gathering to my personal desire for approval and narrowly defined success.  Fortunately I sorted our my motives.  I arrived at the party with a slightly imperfect crust. But with my Heart in the right place.  And that was quite good enough.

Heart: When Zinnias Takeover the World


zinniasMy Dad dug a zinnia patch next to his robust vegetable garden a few years before he died.  He created this butterfly-magnetizing oasis for my Mother, his beloved wife. Shade had overtaken her lakeside zinnia circle, and, knowing how she appreciated the intrepidly cheerful flowers, he took action.  A small kindness.  Motivated by appreciation.  Caring. Love.

I remember this simple act, when brazen cruelty takes the global stage. Or reveals itself in a heartbreaking snippet exposing suffering intentionally inflicted in some oft forgotten far away place.  Or even close to home.

I remember in honor of the Human Heart.   And to hold myself steady.

When I began planting zinnias in my own garden — more and more each year, a young friend joked about zinnias taking over the world.

What do you think? A takeover of kindness.  Caring.  Love.   A powerful spreading of the Heart.   A counterweight to cruelty.  A companion plant to unshakable resolve and courage.  One seed.  One act.  One Motive-filled moment after another.  And another.   

Heart: Gift of a Spider’s Web

spiders webOn the road’s west shoulder vacation cabins root into the plummeting hillside; their wooden decks affording unobstructed views of the White River meandering below and the forest rushing up the far bank.

Visitors come from far across state lines to temporarily inhabit the cabins and breathe in the rural tranquility.  Expectant of Ozark vistas.  Hoping for view-friendly sunny skies. A hope sometimes smothered in lingering, low hanging clouds.   Alas.

On such a grey morning, on my daily walk along the road, an unexpected spider’s web caught my eye.  It clung to a vacationer’s car door with delicate firmness.  A glistening gift.

An instinctual arachnid construction. A death trap for insects. An unconditional Natural offering in sympathy for other beauty obscured?   

Reminding that a well-placed, spontaneous gift can uplift.  Encourage.  Restore hope.  Evoke a smile.  Even on grey days.

Heart: Uniting for the Homeland

swepco signAround April Fools’ Day 2013, some of my Eureka Springs friends and neighbors opened their mailboxes to letters informing them of SWEPCO’s (Southwestern Electric Power Company) intention to construct an energy superhighway through the heart of the Arkansas Ozarks. Word quickly spread that this 345kV line was to run approximately 48 miles, claiming a 100 foot wide swath through forest, river valleys, national treasures (Thorncrown Chapel and the Trail of Tears) and agricultural lands with promises of herbicide spraying in perpetuity, possibly from helicopters.   Time to object: 30 days.

This news devastated individual home owners, some of whom would have the powerline pass within feet of their homes. It shook business people dependent on the nature-based tourist economy, angered local lovers of Ozark caves, waterways and trees, troubled naturalists who understood the vulnerability of the area’s unique karst terrain, piqued historians, and distressed anyone dependent on clean drinking water to survive.

Eureka Springs is my first experience with a small town (population about 2000, with the entire county coming in under 30,000). Sometimes the intense public dissension injected into seemingly simple issues like parking meters and walking trails surprises me.   But SWEPCO’s threat called forth a different response, a unified response largely catalyzed by a dogged, procedurally savvy, quickly formed group called Save the Ozarks.

SWEPCO had proposed multiple routes for consideration by the Arkansas Public Service Commission for its project.   A perfect plan for dividing and conquering the opposition. But the Heart can’t be divided. The founders of Save the Ozarks (STO) understood the revolutionary value of standing together beyond personalities and proposed routes. And so the message from our local lips became: “We oppose all routes.”

The uncertain road was trying and long, particularly for those at the center of STO, but on December 30, 2014 SWEPCO finally withdrew its application, citing a lack of need (which STO’s experts had pointed out from the beginning). Across the Ozarks, most everyone, perhaps even the Ozark Big-Eared bats, breathed a sigh of joyful relief and gratitude to Save the Ozarks and all who contributed to the defense of our Ozark homeland.

Sometimes things are just too important to let personal agendas and annoyances get in the way.   The Heart transcends boundaries and differences. It gives the wisdom and the will to act together to defend and heal what matters, whether that is the homeland of one’s family, beloved countryside, or the planet.

What experience do you have with united, heart-full action?

Heart: Motive Matters. Take Time to Question.

fireMy new home sports an old model Jotul woodstove. The warmth emanated by this cast iron jewel spreads like coconut oil on toast. It soaks into my living space, saturating it with an embracing, gentle heat.

I usually build a pre-dawn fire. Some days I ignite the kindling to cut the nip in the morning air so as to more comfortably enjoy a cup of locally mixed “immuni-tea”.  Other times simply to nurture Ruby (my faithful cat), who loves to settle herself under the stove and absorb its heat.

We build numerous fires in our lives. We spark projects and relationships that we coax to life and feed with our attention, our choices, our feelings and our actions. These are our external fires.

The Heart also blazes.   It flames with sacred aims and exquisite qualities. But perhaps most importantly in relation to our outer fires it is alight with Motive.   When an outer fire (project/relationship) is burning out of control or faltering or smoldering with pain, then a fit and powerful action is to commune with the inner fire.    Meditation, prayer, and song (among others) are tried and true ways to sit with the heart, as if with a friend. and to question; “What is my Heart’s Motive?’ And then looking at the outer fire to consider “Why am I building this outer fire?   Is it burning with Heart Motive at its core?”

Like the faithful Jotul woodstove, the Heart fires can be trusted to emanate heat and warmth that fortifies. Heat and warmth that strengthens courage for necessary “letting go’s” – addictions, ignorance, self-limitations. Heat and warmth that stirs devotion to building outer fires that burn clear and bright with the Heart’s Motive.

What fires are you building and tending in your life?   What Motive burns bright in your Heart?

Heart: Anonymous Giving. No Strings. No Selfies.

magnolia I count on Magnolia grandiflora.   When I am depleted, she endures. When day after day of low-hanging winter grey saps my spirits, her anciently-genomed greenery remains. And she shares it, compassionately comprehending and responding to my seasonal depletion.  She desires no “likes.” Seeks no “hits”, no “comments.” Posts no “selfies.” She simply shines with abandon even in the dull winter light and seems ever renewed. My eyes and my heart and my light-starved brain drink in her resilience. And when the sun does break through on that surprise 60 degree day, well, her beauty simply radiates.

In her presence I am inspired to draw on my sacred primordial genome. I reach for my heart’s power to give.  Without strings.  Without recognition.  To meet a need.  I remember the quiet peace and renewing centripetal power that comes with giving unseen.  Do you know that feeling?

Have you been the beneficiary of anonymous giving?  What is your story?

In the enduring light of Magnolia grandiflora, I set spontaneous, anonymous giving as my fitness goal.