The boy spent months gluing together little houses, stores and churches to form a town around his miniature train set. Setting it up on the living room floor he and a friend began composing the rules and laws of the town and, as often happens when it comes to rules, they began to bicker, the argument escalating in intensity while in the kitchen the Dad was trying to read his report. The next moment, the Dad was stomping the little village into smithereens, and the moment after that he sat at the table, head in hands, wondering, “Where did that come from?”
A clenched fist shaken in someone’s face is a powerful threat, but things deeply hidden also possess power. As rainfall seeps down through the soil it absorbs carbon dioxide and reacts with decaying vegetation, creating a slightly acidic water. That water moves through spaces and cracks underground, slowly dissolving limestone and creating a network of cavities and voids. As the limestone dissolves, pores and cracks are enlarged and carry even more acidic water. Sinkholes are formed when the land surface above collapses or sinks into the cavities, carrying everything down into the void. Something unexamined in the heart does much the same thing: Acidic words trickle down into the heart and, eventually, creates a sinkhole which swallows us and our life whole.
So how can we prevent this? Andre Malraux once said, “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” What we hide from ourselves, especially, carries within it the power to suck us under. The first step to fortifying the heart is to stop running from what upsets us. When we find ourselves upset it can be helpful to take some time alone and at least wonder why we became upset. The specific question that we ask almost doesn’t matter; what matters most is that we seek to understand. As we come to understand one little aspect of our heart, other understandings begin to open to us as well. C.G. Jung commented, “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
George Orwell, in the book “1984”, also said, “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” That… unfortunately… is how sinkholes form in the heart.