The Guests at the Hearth of the Soul

There is a beautiful book of Celtic Wisdom called “Anam Cara” by John O’Donohue. I picked up this book recently and found an essay titled: The Crowd at the Hearth of the Soul. It talks about how we are made of many parts. We are not singular in our makeup. It informed my own Soul searching in the days ahead.

One night, when I was sleep challenged, I found myself looking through one of my sketchbooks at past but recent work. I looked over pages that caught pictures that expressed a great sorrow. As I looked at these drawings, I remembered that John O’Donohue spoke of the Crowd at the Hearth of the Soul and knowing that this sorrow represented a piece of my picture, not the definition of who I am.

Sometimes, I can get so stuck on a part of myself, usually a negative part, and magnify it in my mind. I find myself defining myself as though that one trait is the only one I will be known to the world by. And then I will beat myself up for days feeling like I am the worst possible human on the planet.

But the reality is that there are many different parts that make up who we are. Some are bad. Some are good. Some we love. Some we wish would go away. All of these parts are guests to be welcomed at the Hearth of the Soul. Especially the not so good ones. If a child comes to you deformed and needing help, you don’t shove them away because they are misshaped. You do what you can to help with Love and Compassion. It is the same with those parts of ourselves that are challenges to live with, challenges to accept. If you try to ignore those parts, they will trail behind you as your shadow and haunt you. They will show up in terrible ways to make you look at them. They can make you feel terrible about yourself.

But I have found that the thing to do is to turn my attention towards them, to give them a voice, an expression. These parts of ourselves, like little hurt children, need our love, need our acceptance. Not with the idea of making them go away, that won’t do any good. But for the reason of loving all of what we are. And bring them into the family at the Hearth of our Soul. There are others in the family who will be very different. And as we grow and evolve, we want to help all our parts to grow and evolve. Those parts of ourselves that we may not like, may actually have some really good things to teach us.

Learning to love ourselves is learning to live with and love the crowd, all of the guests, that come to live within the Hearth of our Soul.

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