Take to heart the reminder from the “Heart-shaped bush!”


  1. Let’s openly announce, in all those non-verbal ways, we come with an open heart.
  2. Welcoming others is the surest way for you to feel welcome.
  3. We determine the quality of our interactions with others, contrary to all we’ve been taught.


I discover all kinds of things on my daily walks - many of them illustrative of important points, some attention-getting, and others very sweet. On one of my many routes, I pass by a home that was recently purchased and the owner has done a lovely job of remodeling the house and sprucing up the yard. As part of his landscaping upgrade, he has trimmed a large bush right in the middle of his spacious front yard into the the shape of a perfect heart about five feet high - or more. The house is on a corner and no other large landscaping obstructs the view of this wonderful message from any angle. And this is deliberate; you can’t miss it. I know the kind of shrub it is and it definitely does not grow naturally into a heart shape, or any other for that matter. He maintains that shape with the necessary trimming.

I love the idea that this person, whom I’ve never actually met although I did once see him at a distance, is so purposeful in his declaration of intent to be welcoming and open. What if we all did that in our own way? Obviously, we can’t all trim our landscaping into hearts, but we surely could find other ways to signal the message, “My intention is to regard you openly, kindly, and as a person of unquestioned value and worth.”


Our body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, and energy fields, to use ideas most understand, are as equally obvious in the message they convey as that bush. Not unlike those large advertising “sandwich” signs people wear with arrows pointing to the local car wash or pizza place. One simply cannot hide one’s attitude, however much you might wish to or think you can. Everything about us “gives us away” and we are as transparent as a clear piece of glass, despite how much we think our assorted defenses are doing the job of “hiding, and thus, protecting” us.

Why is this important? Because our beliefs and presumptions determine the quality of our relationships, as well as all other experiences, and they simply cannot be hidden, but are always on open display. We have assumed that the “other person/situation” determines whether the exchange will be satisfactory, pleasant, safe, rewarding, and/or loving - or not. That is incorrect. Our choice to be open, undefended, helpful, and understanding or closed, suspicious, and accusatory is the determinant. That is because those choices convey more powerfully than words, “I’m safe with you. You are a valuable good person and not guilty of anything at all.” or “You’re dangerous to be around, untrustworthy, and to be avoided at all costs.” Obviously, if I signal I’m feeling safe, no one is ascribed the role of “villain” who has, or can, harm me. No message is more deeply healing than this one. If I signal otherwise, I bring out the worst that I’m assuming is there. We always get be “right” in our assessment of others, because we are the ones calling forth their behavior. What I expect, I get.


There is a lesson in ACIM that states. “When I’m healed, I’m not healed alone.” Here’s how this actually works. Let’s say you’re going to be meeting with someone. The options about how one person treats another may range from loving, helpful, adoring, including, supportive, and kind - all the way to hateful, mean, vicious, and insulting with many, many shades and variations in between. Imagine there is a console at your disposal with buttons representing the endless different possibilities about how to perceive, and thus treat, a person. The choice about how to relate to the person you are immediately dealing with is yours alone to make at that moment. The ego pretends like “they make me behave the way I do!” but that is not true.

Keep in mind that you will feel treated the way you treat another - a variation on the theme of “you receive what you give” - when you choose that console button. So for your sake, make that loving choice. And, importantly, as you call forth a more positive response from the other person, he/she will automatically be operating from a more positive place, a higher frequency, feeling freer, and more powerful. So when you facilitate your healing by being more generous in your outlook, you facilitate the healing of the other as well. The ultimate win/win! The non-verbal statement of “You’re safe to be with” carries the day and promotes healing for all concerned. This choice to be more helpful costs you nothing and reaps untold rewards for everyone - as the Course says, also those passed on and those not yet born. Wow, now that’s quite a gift! So you may not have a heart-shaped bush in your yard, but you surely can have a heart-shaped intention in your mind, and what can be better than that!

With love to all,


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