When I lived in California and would drive out the Sonoma Coast to do my ceremonies each month, I would usually return home with at least one beach rock that was shaped like a heart. They were in various sizes and colors, but were all most definitely the shape of a heart. I remember one that was so huge that I couldn’t lift it; and yet there it was, greeting me as I stepped down off the cliff onto the beach.
When I moved up to the Olympic Peninsula in 2017, I did a ceremony with all these heart-shaped rocks that I had brought with me. I wanted to acknowledge the beauty of them and the delight I had felt at finding them. I wanted to let the past go. I needed to let them go because of the connection that they had with that past.
I walked out onto a small, flat promontory at the turning of the low tide, and as the waves began to lap closer to the point of sand where I was, I arranged all the rocks in a huge heart shape. I had just enough time to sit for a few minutes and say my farewell to these rocks—all 73 of them– that I had collected over quite a few years. I was also bidding my farewell to the life that I had been living before I moved to the Pacific Northwest, and welcoming the new life that I was so eager to build and live for the rest of my life. I stood up as the water began to touch the top of the rock-heart. I turned to leave. There, on the sand just a couple of steps in front of me, was a heart-shaped rock: a welcome from the part of the Earth and Sea that is here.
I had collected a couple dozen heart-shaped rocks as I walked the various beaches during my first three years here. The first time I went to Ruby Beach, there was one that someone had set on a giant driftwood log and left, whether on purpose or by mistake. I thanked them for it, for it was a wonderful welcome to a beautiful beach.
As of last year, I stopped collecting the heart-shaped rocks. I still love the colors and the striations in them. (In all of the rocks, actually) I feel connected enough when I see them, acknowledge them, and walk away with the joy that they bring me, but I don’t feel the need to “have” them anymore.
When I walk along the shoreline, my eyes are always scanning the sands for interesting colors of rocks, for shells that have been worn into modern art sculptures, and the tiny bits of sea glass that sparkle in white, brown, turquoise, Kelly green, and cobalt blue. The first of the big storms for the season blew through on gale force winds two days ago. The beach was covered in kelp and the sand was wind-worn smooth. As I was dancing between the piles of kelp and the rolling waves, I saw a heart-shaped rock unlike any I have seen before.
It isn’t just one rock. It is a mosaic of four different types of rock with quartz nestled in at the top, just at the center of the curve of the “heart”.
This one made me think of the Japanese art of Kintsugi, 金継ぎ which means “golden joinery”. It is a way to repair broken pottery using a lacquer mixed with powdered gold. As the gold fills the lines of the cracked and broken places, it makes what was broken more precious than it was before. Kintsugi has become an artistic metaphor for how a broken heart looks when it has healed. The difficulty of suffering heartbreak becomes a transformation into growth and increased self-knowledge.
And I am reminded of the quote from Rumi, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
And from Oscar Wilde, “The heart was made to be broken.”
And, yet, this represents so much more to me. The different types and colors of rock that make up this one heart-shaped thing– there is so much in there. It makes me think of all the people, places, times, things that have happened in my life that do more than “fill” my heart. They became a part of me, a part of my heart, coming together to form the one thing that will keep me going, keep me alive spiritually and feed my soul.
Surely, my heart has been broken. More than once and on many levels. And, while I can certainly focus on the places where the cracks and breaks have been filled with the gold dust of healing, I much rather focus upon those who are more than “dear to my heart”…they are my heart.
My heart is made up of the love and the gifts of understanding and support that they have given to me throughout my life. Their being-ness is part of my being. I am heart-felt because they have shown me that it is safe, and good, to feel.
And, yes, I will keep this rock and stop searching for that which is already inside me.