Come with me now,
silvered in mist
toward the glimmering lake,
bring every grief
you have not said
and every tear
you have not shed
sorrow you’ve carried alone.
‘There is a door
we’ll walk right by
if we don’t stop to look
with our troubled hearts
and a loving eye.’
by David Whyte
There’s something deeply affecting about this excerpt from the poem Lough Inagh, which appeared in the recent book of poetry ‘The Bell and the Blackbird‘ by David Whyte. It brings for me a feeling of poignant tenderness about our beautiful vulnerable humanity. We are so affected by life and love, so broken and scarred, but also so noble and full of a kind of grace in how we endure.
Of course, we tie ourselves in terrible self-defeating knots, but beneath every tangle there’s a valiant effort to survive and love and be ourselves.
What does it mean to look ‘with our troubled hearts and a loving eye’? I think this question deftly sums up the experience of training in compassion. Of course, it’s different for everyone, but sometimes it can feel like a deep tenderising of the heart to the suffering in ourselves and others, born of marinating in a growing awareness of the inner well of compassion we all have.
Of course, fear is what keeps us away from the ‘door beneath everything’. Fear shows up and we about-turn, then we get used to a life of avoidance. So gradually we can learn to see the fear and know that it is not usually a threat. In fact, if we look beneath the story it tells us we can see it is an
invitation to stay present and open* and bring a little more of the loving eye to bear. This is a sure way to find that door of transformation one way or another.
Although this ‘beckoning path’ of compassion training can sound daunting, I find it brings me closer to what I find most meaningful in life – to the possibility of living life fully, loving more truly and appreciating every moment as a doorway of possibility.
PS Join me for a gentle Introduction to Compassion weekend in-person at Samye Ling Monastery in the Scottish Borders from the 12th – 14th August 2022, or dive straight in with our Level 2 Responding with Compassion course!
*Please note that there are times when staying present is not the wise choice. Part of the compassion training is to learn to flex within our comfort zone towards our learning zone, but to be gentle if an alarm begins to sound, returning then to safe ground and a place of outer or inner comfort.