I was at an art show, or an art gallery, or perhaps an art museum. The backdrop isn’t unusual in my case since in my waking life, I am an artist and have occasion to frequent places where artwork is displayed. Although other people were in attendance, I felt completely alone in the room, alone and lost in the paintings on exhibit, as is also normal for me. My spirit took flight from my body and walked barefoot and bare-headed among the grasses and trees of landscapes, dipped naked toes in the cool clear flow of streams and rivers in waterscapes, and sucked sweet juices of peaches and pears arranged in crystal bowls in still lifes. A painting of a man across the span of the room caught my eye—no, it was more than that. I don’t suggest that it called to me, or beckoned me. But I somehow knew I was supposed to go to it and stand before it at full attention.
It was a painting of a holy man, a bronzed face, dark dips and depressions beneath pronounced cheekbones and ancient eyes, near-black beard and hair touching his white tunic. The garment fell from his shoulders and ballooned open at his chest, and caught again in closure at his waist. In the center of his chest sat his exposed heart. I remember thinking in my dream that it was a duplicate of photos I had seen of the Catholic Jesus assuming the same pose—the same face, the same exposed heart.
I am not a Jesus person, or a Buddha or a Mohammad person, nor any other holy-man or holy-woman person. I adhere to no specific genre of religion, therefore I wondered why this particular image caught me so—when suddenly, the heart moved and expanded as if to sigh, and then a pair of lips parted in its center, a mouth that opened and spoke to me. I couldn’t make out the words. I just couldn’t hear them or even to intuit the message that heart had for me. But today, I have an idea of the lesson the talking heart conveyed to me, one I was unable to absorb then, because I wasn’t ready yet. I think the heart said to me, “Talk, Linda. Open up and communicate. Be vulnerable. Tell your story. Let people know you. They are waiting out there, waiting for you to connect with them sincerely.”
This is a tough mandate the talking heart laid upon me. I don’t talk about myself easily, at least not the unmasked me. I’m going to give it my best shot, though, in a series of writings I am calling “My Talking Heart.” Today is the introduction; the next one will be chapter one, and then chapter two, and on and on. I hope you hear me in my musings. And if you do, won’t you let me know, please?