Today in my quiet time I found myself wondering about God's heartbeat.
As an introvert and a mystic, I'm still struggling with the best role for me in this unprecedented era of pandemic and renewed movements for justice and equality. And perhaps because of my last blog post I have been musing about the rhythms and patterns of life, like seedtime and harvest.
Maybe it was my breathing that started this line of thought. Breathing in. Breathing out. Doing, then resting. Oh! I thought. Perhaps that's a pattern I can manage. Like a heartbeat: effort, then rest. Again and again.
Wondering further, I could see that same pattern in larger realms: the surge and ebb of waves on a beach, daytime and night, full moon and new moon, summer and winter, life and death. On bigger and bigger scales.
But as Americans we seem to need to be doing--all the time. Or at the very least watch others doing--at football games, online, on TV, in movies. With little or no balance of rest. "Just do it!" we are told. Ignore the natural pulse of life, the balance of the heart's work and rest. Who in our faster and faster Western society says, "Just rest"?
Well, yes, Hafiz said it, but he was a 14th c. Persian mystic. Here in 21st century America, we always seem to strive for daytime. Always summer. Always doing. True, the pandemic has slowed us down a little, but people seem to be so distressed with that slowdown that they are willing to risk their health, their lives--and the lives of others--to go and do. Eating in restaurants. Gathering in large groups. Shopping. Going to bars.
A frenetic heartbeat, undeterred, untreated, will lead to an exhausted heart, and eventually to premature death.
But if "doing, then resting" is a fundamental and natural pattern, perhaps I can slow myself down enough to connect with it. Perhaps I can detach from that frenzied and unnatural rhythm of constant contraction. Or at least from guilt when I am not "doing."
So then I wondered: since my heartbeat seems to be a natural pattern, perhaps it is a reflection of higher, deeper truths. So...perhaps I could connect with the heartbeat...of the cosmos? An amazing thought. And rather scary.
Then I wondered some more. As things get bigger, the heartbeat seems to get slower. Hummingbird: 1,260 beats/minute. Mouse: 500/minute. Newborn baby: 100 - 160/minute. Adult human: 60 - 100/minute. Blue whale: 4 - 8 beats/minute during a deep dive.
What might be the "heartbeat" of a forest? Our planet? Our solar system? The Universe? The Good Big Thing? (That's one of the names Dickon's mother uses for God in The Secret Garden.)
One "beat" in a thousand years? A million? Ten billion?
Way, way, way too slow for us hummingbird humans. Way, way way too huge. We are, after all, finite and mortal beings.
And yet...and yet...
Could a sense of Enormously Big, Amazingly Slow, Magnificently Balanced, Utterly Peaceful be the very medicine we need to live saner lives? Way too huge for us, way too slow to contemplate, but oh so essential.
Ahhhhh...perhaps a comfort too? A baby in utero hears and feels her mother's heartbeat--a constant pattern of contraction and rest. Wsssh...wsssh...wsssh...
And the sound or feel of that heartbeat can help her ease into calm when she gets distressed after she is born.
Is this part of what we are connecting with when we practice mindfulness? Or pray? Or express compassion for a fellow creature? Perhaps compassion is, in part, about slowing down enough to see the other being as different, unique, yet basically so utterly similar to oneself?
Is there an inherent echo, an inherent connection, to the Good Big Thing when I sense the beating of my heart, or pay attention to my breath? Even if I don't recognize it as such?
Can we be content with shifting from frenzy to deeper patterns of rest, moving at a speed that we can adapt to as humans, yet knowing that the deeper, wider patterns of doing and being pervade the cosmos?
This is all just musing. I don't pretend to have any deep understanding, or any answers. But this is where my mind and heart go when I allow myself some time to breathe. Seeking patterns. Seeking mystery. Seeking nurture and connection with the Good Big Thing.
Until next time,
Omar Salom, cave heart, unSplash
Mourad Saadi, wave, unSplash
Jeremy Thomas, stars, unSplash
Kelly Sikkema, mother and baby, unSplash