living with an open heart

By Wendy Grunthal

cherry blossoms

Spring has burst forth here in Colorado. The tulips and crab apple trees are in full bloom, the grass is green and the trees are getting more and more leaves every day. I have noticed that as the flowers have been opening up so has my heart. There is such an amazing rebirth and rejuvenation that happens as the birds start singing in the mornings and the toddlers notice little bugs crawling on the sidewalk. I have witnessed my heart opening up as well. It is easy to be open and reach my heart out when the sun is shining and the weather is warm. It feels lovely to focus on my heart. It feels liberating to walk with my shoulders pulled back. Spring seems to remind us that we are alive! 

With an open heart, I can see things with a fresh perspective. One of the toddlers in my care has a fearful personality. Sometimes when he cries out of fear, I am triggered and my ego wants to take over. My ego reacts, “Why is he so scared? He needs to toughen up.” I was a fearless child. I have always been a risk taker. It was how I was born. And, I have seen myself be impatient with this nervous child in my care. 

This morning while we were in the park, a loud announcement stating, “This is a warning system test,” went off. The announcement was extremely loud and could probably be heard all over Boulder. Then, an excruciatingly loud siren went off. The three boys in my care huddled around me and continued to hug me through the siren. We kept making the siren noises ourselves and saying, “Loud! The siren is loud!.” The child in my care who is particularly fearful needed to be held for quite some time after the siren went off. He kept making the siren noise and crying a bit and I continued to hold him and repeat, “The siren was loud. You didn’t like that noise. It’s all done now.” Eventually, he was ready to get down and play. 

A young child needed my love and patience and I was able to give him all the love and patience he needed. In turn, he gave me the opportunity to open and fill my heart. What a gift. Originally this child triggered an intolerance in me. I was closed off to fear. Since caring for and loving this child, I have learned to open my heart more fully. When he was afraid and I gave him all the love he needed, he was able to move on and play happily. Giving that kind of love with an open heart is the most fulfilling and meaningful part of not only my job, but my life. 

I wonder in what other situations I need to open my heart. When the sun is shining and we can go to the park and I am motivated to exercise, it is easy to live with an open heart. Will I be able to have an open heart in the winter when we have cold, dark days? Can I stay calm and loving when it is difficult to? Maybe if I can recognize the triggers that close my heart, I can breathe deeper and remind myself that ego is talking. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this glorious spring and let it penetrate my heart!