Rachel Naomi Remen's "Feely" Heart
Before class on Sunday morning, the last yoga class that I'll teach for the next four to six weeks, one of my students told me that she had something to give me. After class, she brought forth a large plastic bag of small, fuzzy, heart-shaped pillows. Tie-dyed and purple and I can't remember what else. She told me to pick one. And for a moment, I was paralyzed with indecision.
Should I choose by closing my eyes and just letting fate rule my selection? Should I choose one of the neon-hued, tie-dyed hearts, seeing as I often feel like a child of the 60s? Or should I take home the purple one in the corner of the bag, with the mishapen seam and the stitches uneven and showing? I'm not sure how to choose, I admitted. My student, who is a pediatrician and a faculty member of a Chicago medical school and a healer and a writer, said that I could choose any way that I wanted, but that I had to be the one to pick. And I knew right away that I wanted to take custody of the slightly lumpy purple heart with the stitches showing. I reached in and chose it, and immediately, it felt right. It nestled into the palm of my hand, cozy and a bit lumpy and just right.
It's called a "feely" heart, and is an idea gleaned from Rachel Naomi Remen, an incredible doctor whose work is about narrative and the healer's art. The idea is that the heart is small enough to be held, carried with you wherever you go, as it fits right into the palm of your hand or a pocket.
It's going to the hospital with me, along with a sky-blue shawl, favorite socks, my Ipod, and my knitting. I'm too distracted to concentrate on lace, so I'll make inroads, hopefully, on the Bianca's Jacket. My plan is to imagine that the hospital trip will be a spa vacation, with plenty of time and quiet for reading and knitting and listening to music.