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After my last Facebook talk on Quarantine as Rite of Passage I received some moving comments from Karen Marie Markum. As a empath, it can be hard to see what emotions are yours and what emotions belong to others. I wound up in a terrible downward spiral feeling like a complete failure. Then my brother and his wife moved in. He is a storyteller. This is a story he shared.

It comes from Sittingbear, an Ojibwa Elder whom has passed.

A Beautiful Heart :

This is a simple story ... One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart, for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it.

Yes, they all agreed, it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart. Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said, "Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine." The crowd and the young man looked at the old man's heart.

It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn't fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.

The people stared -- how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young man looked at the old man's heart and saw its state and laughed. "You must be joking," he said. "Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears." "Yes," said the old man, "yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you.

You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love - I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren't exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared.

Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn't returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges -- giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting.

So now do you see what true beauty is?" The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out.

He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man's heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges.

The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man's heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side.

~Sitting Bear

She said after hearing this, "I realized I was not a failure. I gave as I was supposed to out of love, as Creator wanted. The expectations of other’s reactions I realized were my own. Their choices, their lessons. Had nothing to do with me. Lessons on their path. So thanks to my brother for sharing this story. I pulled myself out of the slump (of the quarantine in which) I have gained 35 lbs. I am so grateful to live in the mountains of TN. Rather isolated. You are so right - laying around doesn't keep you healthy. So now I am drinking water. Water is life.

"I intend to start walking more also. I really need to do these things for love of myself. Plus cut back eating. So even tho it seems hard to do these things its one step at a time. 1 glass of water a day. A short walk. Then expand on them. Increase water consumption. Longer walks. These in themselves will help reduce boredom eating. I am grateful for my life and the realization depression can mess you up. However, I am stronger than it. Plus in the middle of solitude and nature. Love to all. Hope the story helps you as it did me. Blessings!"

I offered to have Karen come on to share her story but she preferred that I do so. She asked me to omit nothing. She wrote “I am a spirit in human robes like anyone else. These lessons help us learn to be able to help someone else. As with Covid we have learned we are social not isolated. We all have emotions like compassion love and kindness that need to be shared.”

I have a lot to say about love, and we will return to the topic. For now, let’s realize this quarantine period has tested most people about all kinds of love: love of self, love of family, love of friends. I think wee have all had days when we failed the love tests, and other days when we learned a lot. I want to continue speaking about love, why it is so difficult for so many of us to both give and receive it. This lack of love to me is the basis for all of the other problems we face now as humans and as a society. And there are reasons for it, and there are ways of changing what we do so that love becomes a more balanced, natural part of our lives. Please think about what love means to you, and share any realizations you think might help others. We all need love, and we have to be willing to work together to find healthy ways of sharing it with ourselves and with each other. Be gentle with yourselves and with each other.

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