I’m reading The Education of the Heart. I have ‘read’ it three times already, each reading at a time in my life when I claimed, or was forced to claim, intimate time for myself. Edited by Thomas Moore, his professional listing is American psychotherapist, former monk, and writer of popular spiritual books. I would add he’s a poet and philosopher, a combination which makes for writing that is both instructive and compassionate. The readings he chose range from two lines to two pages.

This month I’m focusing on love, kindness, friendship, and caring, a pretty neat potpourri of topics and emotions that can easily set me up for quite a nice day. Education of the Heart is a good starting point.

“Care of the soul asks for the cultivation of intimate ways of being in the world, … for a set of standards and customs that give the heart the emotional affinity it requires and the skin the brush with real things it craves … To know things in this friendly way we have to hold them close, visit them in their flesh, become familiar with their past, and hear about them from those who have know the over time.”

When I began my month of expanding intimacy, I started with myself. Spending time watching the sunrise with horizontal strips of grays turning to pinks and blues, I realized I was breathing softly, and focusing on nothing but looking at the colors. “give the heart the emotional affinity it requires”

“If you move into a neighborhood … you can walk the streets, become acquainted with the shopkeepers, and be visible and available to your new neighbors.”

Aha! When we moved to Tucson that was one of the first things I noticed that other people did. The guy who came to install the locks, having finished his job leaned up against the side of his pickup, looked up at our endless Tucson blue sky and said, “Well I think you’re gonna like it here.” An opening to a fifteen-minute conversation about places we’ve lived.

Taking a walk in my community means adding in time to stop and have some kind of exchange with every person we pass along the route. This same “emotional affinity” is available in taking a course, reading a book, or simply sitting on our front patio and noticing the doves who have managed to build a nest in our oak tree from about fourteen twigs. “to know things in this friendly way”

“He who is our Grandfather and Father has established a relationship with people, the Sioux. It is our duty to make a rite which should extend this relationship to the different people of different nations. ~ John G Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks

 Sounds good to me.

Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people and writing, and the wonderful place they both hold in her life.