Holding Life in our Heart


Wisdom speaks to us, when we can listen deeply. Sometimes it comes through a dream.

Here is a story about a friend who works in a public school kitchen making meals for young children. She works side by side with women who tell her their stories. Often she listens to tales of hardship and suffering.

After an especially difficult day, she had a dream. In her dream she was told, “Santa Lucia is our patron saint.” Such dreams come as gifts. Sometimes the meaning and mystery of their images goes so beyond our conscious mind.  Seeking some understanding, my friend made a google search and discovered that Santa Lucia was a martyr in the Roman Empire. She wondered if this meant that she was doing something wrong.

But somewhere she knew that there was more to the dream, and a week later, called to ask for my thoughts. To me, St. Lucia is the eternal feminine, as she would not die when the Roman’s tried to kill her. Her name is derived from lux, lucis, ‘light’ and I had read that St. Lucia is sometimes known as “The Queen of Light.” She’s celebrated in Northern European countries as the light at the beginning of the dark days of winter.

I suggested that the dream shows how she can hold a light for those around her, especially since she listens to the women’s stories. And that it hints that she not only has the ability to hold light for these women, but she can also become more aware of her own capacity for light. As we spoke, I sensed how my friend came back into relationship with her dream, and also a part of herself.

Her dream so touched me, for it revealed how the sacred inner world helps us when there is real need.

When I first brought our program for newly homeless women to a large shelter, I went to sleep one night with a wordless prayer. It came with a deep wondering, a feeling of both emptiness and uncertainty. What was it that I could bring to the women? What did they need? Upon waking the following morning, I heard two sentences, so simple and clear:

We each have a choice where we put our attention.

They are so cold.

And I knew this ‘we’ meant all of us. Inside the clarity of these words was such a tenderness, and I felt this in my heart, and in my body. I knew, then, how to be with the women.

Later that morning, as I met with a group of 8 women, sitting in a small, windowless room in the shelter, I asked them to imagine a fire in the center of our circle. We could warm ourselves from this fire – it could warm our hands, and our being. This is how I introduced the women to the circle and to a meditation of the heart. They understood that the warmth from this fire wasn’t just for us, but for others who might need it too.

So I share my friend’s dream, and my own, because they speak of the kind of knowing that we carry, that we have access to, that has to do with our oneness. This knowing helps us to hold life in our heart.

I end with a prayer that many of you might know, but it’s one that I love:

Open my heart that I may hear Thy voice that constantly comes from within.

With seasons greetings to you!

Holding Life in our Heart
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11 years ago

Thank you for your lovely solstice greetings. It’s nearly a full moon tonight, and the clouds keep covering over the moon and then revealing it again. I just took a walk up the hills to see this, and it reminded me of holding the light in this time we live in. So good to hear from you! xx

jane true
11 years ago

what a beautiful post Anne, warmed my heart to read it and to share again this wisdom of the feminine…thank you and greetings for the solstice from England 🙂 xx

11 years ago

As I came to this page after clicking on the link, I saw the candles burning and loved the image. I noticed my body becoming suddenly warm, as when a hot flash occurs. I assumed that was what it was, since I am re-experiencing menopause after stopping HRT due to a heart condition. But as I read on, and read of the fire in the circle of women, I felt that it was more than a hot flash… it was a blessing of light and warmth, a gift of the fire… Thank you, dear Anne…

11 years ago

Thank you, Anne. My heart is warmer after reading your words. so good to connect in this way and feel the fire you have ignited!

11 years ago

This is so helpful and moving. What you write helps us to feel what it’s like to hold this warmth, this love in our heart, even when it’s lonely or difficult. And how this soft joy can come. Thank you for this.

11 years ago

Thank you, Anne. I am deeply moved by your tender story, the dreams and the lovely prayer. Sharing in the light and in the fire….we are all one in the circle.

christina isobel
11 years ago

thank you. a beautiful image of the fire in the middle of the circle constantly there to warm our hears. and i love the reminder that “the divine voice constantly comes from within.”

11 years ago

Beautiful article. I also notice lately that my heart feels as if it has embers of a soft glow. I hold it. I am challenged when I find something distressful. Then I sit quietly and feel these warm embers, and make a conscious choice of where to put my attention and I pray for the strength to do so. So my energy is not squandered during these times. After a while soft joy emerges. Sometimes it feels lonely and desolate, but I hold it anyway, because as an older woman, I feel it’s important for these times, especially because younger people have more outer lives which they must attend to. But we older ones can hold this warmth. Thank you.