I am overjoyed to offer the two reflections on the heart that are shared here: one through poetry and one through art. Joanna Jaya is the artist. Paula Payne Hardin is the poet. Their joining together expands my heart! ~ Mari
PAULA PAYNE HARDIN
A few years ago, I felt the urge to write poems honoring some of what I have experienced during this human/Divine journey. I am in my 83rd year and have been living with A Course Of Love since October 2014. This Course has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.
This painting was inspired by a walk along the beach at sunrise on New Year’s day. Everything was so so still, even the waves were quiet as the sun rose above the mist. It was one of those numinous moments where the veils between worlds seems to part for a moment.
And now we begin to see with the eyes of our heart.
We are no longer looking out but looking in. All landscapes and horizons form within the embrace. C:20.8
Is not the embrace itself holy? Is not the sunrise and the
sunset? Is not the least of the birds of the air as holy as
the mighty eagle? The blade of grass, the fleck of sand, the
the wind and air, the ocean and her surf, all live by the
universal heartbeat and exist within the embrace. C:20.21
STRETCHED MY RIB CAGE!
The following verses are chosen around the theme of Love (to partner with Jaya’s compelling heart painting) and excerpted from longer poems.
August 14, 2013
There were times I felt as though some great
Angel took tongs
And stretched my rib cage to the cracking
point to make room for—
The necessary enlargement of my heart.
March 9, 2014
I muse while writing this poem and am reassured
Immature though they often were
My attempts to love over the years are not lost
And my worried heart is consoled
Love can never be erased.
September 22, 2o14
Learning to love well is my soul’s deep desire
Inflated fear doesn’t serve that desire
But constricts my heart until
Fight or flight takes over.
It isn’t easy to turn our lives into a celebration
Gathering the wisdom hiding in our fears
But the harvest is a heart
Freed up to love.
June 7, 2013
I want all creation to know it is marvelous
Saturated in every cell and molecule
With imprisoned Splendor
I want every creature and tree and cloud to feel valued
Then and only then
When my name is called and death is near
Could my heart bear to leave this bizarre and spectacular planet.
June 12, 2013
So I offer my heart and hold out my hands
Because bottom line
Love is all there is
And the rest of the time I play
And blow kisses.
August 24, 2013
And I did it, I kept on keeping on
That is the one piece of advice I’d pass along to anyone seeking
Keep on keeping on.
And something miraculous
Which you slowly recognize, keeps you company
You don’t need to understand
No one needs to explain it more than this
But everything, everything, everything is sacred
Now we can recognize love, be love, and give love
And when grace helps us see some pollution in our loving
Love propels us to become more aware
And liberating clarity emerges.
What a journey
What a magnificent journey
I join with Nobel Prize winner Dag Hammarskjold
“To all that has been, thank you.
To all that will be, yes.”
This last poem “appeared” on my computer screen one morning in 2000. I do not remember writing it. Mystery. Gift. I had life threatening cancer at the time and the message I kept receiving was: “All there is is love.” Today I appreciate the message and the poem more than I could then.
…And beyond to the stars
And outer galaxies
The smallest grasshopper
Was not left out
Nor were my own flaws and failures.
Redemption rolled over all
Like some cosmic ocean
And everything sang love’s song
There was no you nor me
There was only the greatest WE
About our contributors
PAULA PAYNE HARDIN: A brief bio
Paula authored the book “What Are You Doing With the Rest of Your Life? Choices in Midlife” (1992). This opened the door for her to be on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Her next book was: “Love After Love: Stages of Loving” (1996). She mentored many children in her blended and extended family and has traveled extensively, hiking and trekking around the world. These commitments, she says, prodded her heart to expand— a necessary expansion.
JOANNA JAYA introduces herself
A Course of Love came to me when I desperately needed it. Its kindly voice and sweet message of love soothed my grieving heart and troubled mind. My beloved husband had recently died and I was in a state of deep grief and did not know where to turn for solace. I had been revisiting A Course in Miracles via the internet when I stumbled upon a link to A Course of Love. At once I was blown away by the direct and beautiful message of love speaking directly to my heart. Mari Perron on YouTube talked about how she came to receive the words of Christ and I felt an instant connection to her beautiful presence and voice.
My spiritual journey has been a long and rocky road to travel at times. As a child I was always the outcast and found solace in my books and imaginary worlds. As a teen during the late 60’s I started my search for answers through the drugs that offered the possibility of easy enlightenment. This led on to discovering yoga and TM meditation and reading books like Be Here Now. In my search for an alternative way of being I joined the Hare Krishna movement attracted by their philosophy of simple living in community with others and the promise of a direct connection with God through the Yoga of devotion. I raised my two daughters in the community and dedicated my life to serving God.
After immersing myself in that life for over 10 years I realised that it was not working for me and that God felt far away from me still.
Many know me by the name Jaya; it is a name for the divine feminine and means victory. It is the name I was given during my Krishna days; I mostly go by the name Joanna nowadays.
In the following years I tried to make sense of everything and to find a way to life outside the spiritual bubble of community. My children left home, my first marriage ended and I had two bouts with cancer. I moved away to Cornwall on the rugged Atlantic coast to try to heal my soul and find my true spiritual home. After a couple of years I moved across the country to be closer to my daughters and went to college to study art and design. This was a good time, but I was still restless and searching for deep spiritual connection. I went to live in Glastonbury, a place that calls many spiritual seekers. There I met a dear man who was a true soulmate who had shared some of my past experiences. We quickly became a couple and we shared many happy loving times together until his time came to leave his body behind three years ago.
Now I live alone in a pleasant house close to the sea in a small town in Suffolk England. I spend my days quietly, sometimes meeting my daughters and helping out with my grandchildren. I love to tend the garden, to paint and sew and play with clay. My great solace is my daily reading of ACOL. I am now on my sixth reading and each time is freshly new and wonderful. I feel a close connection and a deeply loving connection to everyone in our Facebook group and love to join with them often. I continue to be inspired by the beautiful imagery and poetic words in ACOL and am willing and hopeful that I will be able to express that through painting. I am looking forward to joining with Paula and sharing our art and poetry.