Keep On Strong Heart

Strong-Hearted Beth and Adam Dancing at Her Birthday

Strong-Hearted Beth and her son Adam Dancing at Her Birthday

I first learned about the 4-chambered heart when we enrolled our son in a therapeutic boarding school. It had been a 14-year journey trying to find help for my struggling child and I was exhausted. As I was beginning to pick up the pieces of my life I also picked up Angeles Arrien’s book, The Four Fold Way. And there it was–in the chapter on the Healer and love and “Paying attention to what has heart and meaning” — the beginning of real healing.

Angeles, a cultural anthropologist, shares that many indigenous cultures feel the Four Chambered-Heart is the source for sustaining emotional and spiritual health. Your heart must be full, open, clear and strong. Where you are not Full-Hearted, you are Half-Hearted. And where you are not Open-Hearted, you become Closed-Hearted. Confusion is the result when you lack a Clear-Heart.

I acknowledged each of these wounded chambers of my heart, but was most saddened to recognize that I had become Weak-Hearted. I had always prided myself on my Strong Heart…especially in my ability to courageously fight for my children. But it seemed I was in heart-failure and I began to seek ways to mend.

It was a “power song” that touched my heart the most. On those down days when I knew that a good cry would cleanse my weary heart, I would play Keep On Strong Heart by Libby Roderick over and over again until I felt restored.

Over the years, I’ve discovered many things that are real and true about the heart. It is resiliant. It can be broken…shattered into a million pieces and, somehow, if we are open, strong, clear and full the heart will heal. And as with broken bones, it will knit together and be stronger than it was before being broken. Keep on, strong heart!

Beth Black is the Founder of Cherokee Creek Boys School, a therapeutic boarding school for middle-school boys, ages 11-15, located in Upstate South Carolina.

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comments (8)

8 Responses to “Keep On Strong Heart”

  1. colleen King Ney says:

    Thank you Beth. It is a great reminder that a strong heart has to first admit the heart is broken before it can reach out and stay open to healing. Cherokee Creek helped me open my heart in many ways!

  2. Susan Pleasants says:

    Beth, I can’t believe that 7months ago my heart was shattered into a million pieces, and now, even with Greg’s heart attack my heart is full and I feel blessed. Cherokee Creek has healed my heart, is in the process of healing Scott’s heart and with some help from Dr. Tummala is healing Greg’s heart.

  3. Marcy says:

    Thank you for sharing this very powerful message! I feel so much more connected with my son when I read these.

  4. Butch Clay says:

    It takes “Strong Heart” indeed to found and sustain a school for struggling middle school boys.

    You found YOUR healing and YOUR strength, and look what happened:

    Here we all are, hammering away, all the while learning far more about heart FROM these young guys, it often seems, than ever WE teach them.

    Keep On Strong Heart!

    I enjoyed your blog post, Beth.

  5. Jean Raffa says:

    Dearest Beth,

    Courage, compassion, and caring are just three of the things I associate with the heart. The strength of your heart in all three areas is something I’ve always admired about you, and what you have created with CCBS proves I was right!!

    Love you, sweet sister,

  6. Beth Black says:

    Thank you, friends. Starting Cherokee Creek has been my greatest joy and the journey has been a time of transformation. One of my many teachers wrote “For in order for our suffering to have any meaning at all, it must ultimately increase the capacity of all humankind to love and to be loved.” Joan Boryshenko, Fire in the Soul. I know this to be true in my life! 🙂

  7. Betty Dworschak says:

    I would love to hear/read more about what Beth and others think it means to be weak-hearted, because I think many of us Cherokee Creek parents feel they’ve suffered from that. I think being weak-hearted means (at least in part) failing to acknowledge what is true. CCBS challenges teen boys and parents of struggling teens “to discover what is real and true about themselves and the world around them.” Beth, what do you think?

  8. Beth Black says:

    Hi Betty… I agree that part of being weak-hearted can, indeed, be failing to acknowledge what is true…more specifically, what we know is true. It is “where we are lacking courage to be authentic or, “to say what is true for us.” (Angeles Arrien) With my son, I knew long before I acted that something big and different needed to happen. I also knew I was denying the truth and stalling in hopes that something miraculous might happen. My fear and anticipated grief were stronger than my courage. The word “courage” etymologically means ”the ability to stand by one’s heart.” I’m not sure what happened first, but it seemed one morning I woke up and “paid attention to what has heart and meaning” and my strong heart began to restore itself…and then I was able to act. I think many of our CCBS families have had a similar experience. We hope that part of our mission to “discover what is real and true” includes exploring what it means to “stand by one’s heart” and recovering our strong heart! 🙂