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Heart Wisdom

Unity of Birmingham Guest Writer Series:

By Jane Phillips

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)

ALL of the questions—and there are so many unsolved questions in our heart at

any stage of life; Rilke’s advice to a young poet is a great example of “heart wisdom.”

Being a container for all the questions is one of the most challenging parts of maturing

soulfully. We are an impatient lot. We like fast, clear, easy answers, so the admonition to

be patient is one that makes us grind our teeth. The more impatient we become, the

more mistakes we make, and the more paths we impulsively take that lead away from

the true answers. It’s one of those irritating paradoxes the gods like to toss into the

human sphere—the more we search, the further we get from our goal. We must wait for

the answers to reveal themselves, and often we see them only in retrospect.

When we are young, we wonder whether we’ll ever grow up. What will I be when

I grow up? What will I do? Who will I marry? As we mature, we wonder bigger

questions. What am I supposed to do with my life? What is my calling? Will I survive

and prosper, or will I crash and burn? Who am I without the roles that I play? Is there a

core me that is separate from my profession, my roles in the world, my image in the

community? What does my truest-self want? By the time we are old, the questions

revolve around what comes next. How will I live when I can’t take care of myself? How

will I die? What will my legacy be? Will anyone remember that I lived at all? None of

these questions can be answered in the moment—they must be lived. They must be

held in the cup of our hands and protected like a baby bird, like a butterfly whose wings

we do not want to break.

The solution to unanswerable questions is just as Rilke says:

...We must live everything...

We must hold the questions close to our hearts and allow life to lead us to

the answers. As much as we want to believe that we are the master of our life, the

captain of our ship, the truth is that much of life is unpredictable and random. We are

simply here to learn, to grow, to expand in heart and soul. We evolve by living every

minute of every day, and by giving this precious life our full attention.

In the Spirit,


Jane Philips is a retired Special Education teacher, Licensed Professional Counselor, and Licensed Massage Therapist. She has also lead Spirituality Groups, Wisdom Circles, drumming circles, and she wrote a daily blog for twelve years called Spiritually Speaking.

Jane is currently working on a memoir titled, Old Crazy Town. She is a fifth-generation quilter.

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