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  • Writer's pictureMike Woods


Day 21 - Emotional healing It was years ago now that the speaker asked us to picture in our mind two different lists of five. Her first five words were nouns (facts): Volkswagen Beetle, elephant, mountain, apple, and lake. Her second list were feelings: contentment – ecstasy - furious – peacefulness – troubling.

We all agreed that she read the second list faster – but she hadn’t. She told us that our minds process facts quickly so the we found the first list easy. The second list of feelings was given to us to show that the heart needs time to process what it is given to know. It takes time to feel what is true, beautiful and necessary.

So far I have been writing mostly about the facts of my open heart surgery but now my feelings are starting to make themselves known.

• Why am I unpredictably emotional? • Why am I anxious when leaving home? • Gratefulness and yet undeserving are very strong feelings. • Seeing that I matter a great deal to people is humbling.

It is not that difficult to report how I have progressed from standing to walking to my hospital room door, to walking in the hospital hallway. It is a bit harder to name the surprise of how winded I got from these short jaunts and how I felt at my weakest.

Nurses would ask me to give a number to my pain and I would dutifully give them a numeral to chart. Easy-peasy. But constant pain gives birth to deep questions. How do people find the energy to heal or be positive while being gnawed on by pain?

I am living with a ten pound lifting restriction – nothing heavier than a gallon of milk (fact). I am alive today but earlier this month I had a brush with my own death (feeling). These are different experiences.

Our hearts are more than just good blood pumps. They represent our capacity to listen. As I measure my heart rate several times a day to make sure it is not going too fast I think about how we are called to live in time another way than just the speed of the mind.

We do well when pausing to: • feel the flow of our day. • watch things heal without our help. • see things grow without our intervention (lessons in humility)

Who or what will hold us accountable to this slower listening of the heart?

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