Take A Look There

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Spend some time with the People of Heart; In their presence, you’ll find a heart too.
If you thirst for the beauty of the eternal Beloved, where might you look?
Since your heart is a mirror, Take a look there.
– ‘Abd al-Rahman Jami

I found this wonderful little poem in a book called “Love’s Alchemy”, a collection of poems from the Sufi tradition. I am enthralled by the advice in the first line, “Spend some time with the People of Heart.” Immediately I want to know these people; I want to spend some time with them. I know I will be transformed in their loving presence. But there is something about the capital letters that lets me know that these People of Heart are not people of the sentimental Hallmark card kind of love, but people of a fierce kind of love — love that is strong enough to change me.

I find evidence of this fierce transformative heart all around me. I think that somehow the word “heart” is reemerging as a word of strength and empowerment; it has been reclaimed from the frilly Valentine’s Day cards and overly sweet heart-shaped candies that seemed to trivialize it and drain it of its power.

If you have ever heard the poet, Robert Bly read poetry, then you know he is one of the People of Heart. Bly is fierce when it comes to looking at life and seeing things clearly. “He is not going to sugar coat reality. Witness these lines from his poem So Be It, Amen. “When a dead dog turned up on the road, the disciples” Held their noses. Jesus walked over and said:” “What beautiful teeth!” It’s a way to say “Amen.” Yet when Coleman Barks introduced Bly as “a force in American poetry” Bly responded, “I don’t want to be a force of anything. I want to be known as a man who knew how to love.”

Heart is turning up in books about business and leadership. We are recognizing that we cannot survive without heart. No longer is heart to be relegated to our private lives and left out of our workplaces and the public realm. There is a wisdom that comes with a fiercely loving heart that is essential for healing ourselves, our businesses, our institutions, our planet.

In Leadership on the Line, the authors who are faculty at the John F. Kennedy Business School at harvard University, conclude with a chapter entitled “Sacred Heart.” A sacred heart is a fierce heart because it has the courage to “feel everything, to hold it all without letting go of your work.” A sacred heart can experience pain — can live in the tension of polarities — and not go numb. A sacred heart is filled with wisdom and rooted in compassion. Similarly, the business guru, Ken Blanchard says, “we believe if leaders don’t get the heart right, they simply won’t ever become servant leaders.”

So how do we get the heart right? The poem tells us “spend some time with the People of Heart.” You intuitively know who they are, don’t you? Walk into any Cove program and you are in the midst of them, but they are also in the supermarket checkout line, driving down Mopac, in the office next to yours, and perhaps sitting across the dinner table from you. The poet urges us to “take a look there.” Show them your mirror heart and you both will be transformed.