Reflections on Culture, Reflections on Life, storytelling

Following the Heart and Finding God

There are many clichés about the heart that we use day to day. “Follow your heart”, “listen to your heart”, “stay true to your heart”… but what if these are not just clichés. What if we take them literally and they reveal a world of magic beyond our wildest imaginings?

About five years ago, I discovered a book called “the Power of the Heart” by Baptist de Pape.  I was perusing the bookshelves in Chapters, waiting for a book to catch my eye that may help me during the difficult phase of a fizzling relationship. The red and pink covered book seemed to attract me like a moth to a beacon of light. My heart started to drum in my chest and I felt like I had crossed the path of a destined lover! I knew I had to read it.

The book turned out to be just what I needed to read. It was a woven narrative and compilation of reflections from 18 of the worlds leading spiritual leaders, intellectuals, and scientists about the nature of the heart. It gave personal stories of following the heart’s calling and shared the scientific basis for the intelligence of the heart. I started practicing one of the book’s activities that involves finding a quiet place, asking a question directed at the heart, and listening for the first answer as a whispered knowing in one’s mind. The idea is that the more that we “listen to our hearts”, the more aligned we become with our life’s true purpose.

Fast forward to the summer of 2017, I was hanging out in the volunteer tent at a folk music festival in Nova Scotia and met Marta, a feisty, young adventure-seeker from Colombia. She had hitchhiked from Montreal with her friend from Denmark. I was amazed to hear her experience of the vibrant, multi-faceted culture of her homeland. Like many people I knew very little about Colombia and the first things that came to mind about the country were coffee and the drug wars. We became fast friends and I gave her a warm maritime welcome by showing her around and taking her to a favourite camping place. By the end of her visit she had invited me to come stay with her family in Colombia someday. I was intrigued by the opportunity and knew from listening to my heart that I needed to go.

Little did I know that I would be going to Colombia not once but twice the following year for a total of four months. I fell in love with her brother Samuel and saved up my pennies in the summer to visit him the second time*. It was truly an earth-moving, heart-opening, and mind-boggling experience getting to know Colombia from the comfortable nest of Marta and Samuel’s home in Bogotà. Samuel, an incredibly gentle, kind-spirited and passionate man, taught me much about living in the moment, trusting with an open-heart, and loving unconditionally. It was a love that knew no boundaries, even beyond the end of our relationship in January 2019.

The time in Colombia was very healing for the soul as I experienced a culture totally different from the westernized, dominant Canadian culture that I had grown up in. I came to see my struggle with self-esteem and anxiety not just as a result of personal and familial quirks but as being culturally influenced as well. My drive to be on time, to plan ahead constantly, to save and hoard money, and to seek perfection were partly (but not totally) attributed to cultural factors that were passed on through the generations. In Colombia, arriving an hour late to a social event was often completely acceptable, people rarely focused on future plans in day to day conversation, and there was generally a more laid back attitude. There were commonalities in culture as well, including the far-reaching western drive to secure stable full-time employment. Colombia was a place where I could begin to understand the roots of my behaviours and let go of some of the old cultural expectations that caused stress. I was able to stretch my inner confidence through challenges like learning Spanish from ground zero and taking a solo trip to the northern coast.

The diversity of the tropical fruits, the contrasting landscapes from desert to cloud forest to Caribbean shores, the cautious accompanied evening walks in downtown Bogotà, the open-hearted and hospitable people, the bouncing Latino music…it was a captivating landscape of experience that was mainly positive. I felt protected as I was kept safe from any misfortune during the four months, even during the six day cycling and camping trip from Bogotà to Neiva with my fearless leader Marta. At the time I thought I was incredibly lucky or that my travel skills were well honed or that Marta and her family were my protectors. It was not uncommon to meet people, especially tourists, who had been pick-pocketed in one of the major cities for example. But now looking back I see that following my intuition led me on a path that was truly protected by the Divine and intentional in my learning and development.

I continued to follow my heart to Spain in the winter of 2019 and I could not have prepared myself for the discovery I would make at an organic farm in Asturias. I arrived at the farm on a rainy, misty day and, while cracking walnuts by the fire, found myself launched into a nutty, amazing conversation with two kind-hearted truth-seeking people about some incredible found truths. The topics we discussed included intelligence agency plotting in the UK, the location of Arch of the Covenant (which houses the original tablets given to Moses by God), and the existence of God. I followed my heart up to the side of the mountain overlooking this beautiful, peaceful farm and the surrounding cherry and chestnut forests that blanketed the jagged mountains. I asked my heart and it confirmed that… YES it was all true, YES the Inner Guidance was from God, and YES God exists. MIND. BLOWN.

The intuition that confirmed these truths was the same intuition that led me to Colombia and to a rich and loving learning experience with Samuel and his family. It was also the same intuition that helped me to navigate the Devil’s Nose downhill on bicycle, find my way through winding streets alone, and to fruitful farm volunteering experiences in Colombia and Spain. It turned out that “following my heart” (i.e. following my intuition) was the SAME THING as following an Inner Guidance given to me by God. I knew that it would take a big experience to believe in God and here it was, complete with multiple miracles that I witnessed manifesting in the natural world during the following weeks. I spent the next several months processing the reality that I am a child of God, that God created EVERYTHING, and that the purpose of my life here on earth is to learn to be a good soul and to do God’s will by following this Inner Guidance. In truth, I will probably spend the rest of this body’s lifetime processing it. Life has become more beautiful, more joyful, and even more full of meaning since that precious day of cracking nuts by the fire. I am so grateful for every moment on this journey and I owe it all to God.

*Before I left to Colombia, a shaman had predicted that I would fall in love…with that exact person. We live in a magical world.

Note 1: The thing about truth seeking is that no matter what truth one finds, we have to be prepared to leave behind any belief that no longer fits with the new perspective. All of the writing before this entry is an OLD perspective. All of the writing after this entry is a NEW perspective grounded in a belief that God exists. And there will be more shifts in perspective to come.

Wherever you are on your path, I encourage you to question your own beliefs, seek new truths in your experience, and to follow your heart. The effort and discomfort will be worth it.

Note 2: I gave aliases to the people mentioned in this article in case they want to remain anonymous.

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