Pilgrimage of the Heart
    A Hero’s Journey of Love And Philanthropy

    by Maggie Finefrock (Nepal 1982–85)
    (writing as Maya Namarnus)
    The Learning Project Press,
    108 pages

    Reviewed by Deborah M. Ball (Niger 1992–94)

    PILGRIMAGE OF THE HEART expresses spirit, depth, despair and elation. Maya Namarnus leads the reader into the depths of relationality with oneself and with others. Themes of love, “Eros-enlivening, Philia-connecting, Agape- Unifying,” are beautifully woven through her poetry.
         How did we learn how to love? Do we know what “love” is? We stand witness to an unfolding interior landscape, the development of Maya’s heart-soul. Through relationships, angst and gained insight, she conveys the nuances of love-relations. The collection displays the maturing process of authentic love.
         In violet ink, the journey begins with a young girl who believes she is “a wild horse trapped in a gangly body.” This wild horse-girl is “aware of the callings of her soul, bursting with curiosity and connection to all things.” She senses that her boundless love is too large for others. To ease other peoples discomfort she stores her abundance “in a box.” However, through time and writing “her love and great spirit slipped out.”

    The pilgrimage starts with Eros, “romantic love.” She longs for and chases socialized versions of Eros. Imagining her deepest gift will be fulfilled through another person, she compromises her power, only to discovers Jekyll and rejection;

    who has ravaged my gifts,
    rejected my open hands
    and left my questioning eyes

    Not realizing her own inner wholeness, she struggles with painful forces of degenerating passion;

    magnolia blossoms lay

    Eros’s enlivening love often burns and transforms. The mystery of human connections shift with the flowing wind and sea of relationality;

    nature is ruled by constant change
    in tragic pantomime
    no answers are given
    when sand grains are scattered
    by the whirlpool of time.

    Next port of the heart visited is that of Philia, “love for one’s fellow beings.” This experience is one of mutuality. It is an opportunity to meet “person to person, not actor to actor.” This love is a deeper expression than the performance of social roles and rehearsed lines. We watch Maya befriend her interior-dragons and start to heal. She meets Chris, a sister on the path of life. Chris’s gentle eyes and words affirm Maya’s own authenticity.
         Through the difficult and rewarding task of learning how to love, she uncovers her desire to serve humanity. Love is how we live and what we do. This precious way of heart allows us to maintain our own integrity while honoring another’s dignity. As our hearts widen we realize “Philia,” not a needy and greedy Eros love, but a joyous, responsible love. Love full of acceptance and forgiveness.
         Then the author invites us to climb the far reaches of our souls by introducing Agape, spiritual love. To taste this “love feast” we must move through false beliefs that veil our inner truth. Maya states, “[o]ur uniqueness, love and respect add to the synergy of the world, not our conformity.” We must remember who we really are and what our purpose is, this cultivates a natural love which then ripples forth to others. Our innate uniqueness, our illumination, is not to be hidden under a bushel. “Jesus did not stop at the point of thoughtful solitude . . . [and] . . . Buddha got up to teach after enlightenment.” We must discover and express “the dance of our own being.”
         Maya does not share the early “wounding” that began her journey. This “shadow” could possibly offer further understanding and wisdom to the reader. But, her mindful words still wake the reader into the light of life. One particularly appreciated the “prayer stone” Maya gives us — a reminder to take ourselves lightly. As she describes,

    uncovering humor under layers of doubt
    while laughing, I slowly go sane.

         The tool of laughter can guide us home to our deepest selves. This unconditional freedom, the Jubilee, is now, if we listen to our heart’s natural inscriptions,

    Living our stories fully
    enables us to find,
    our creativity
    our passion
    our way
    our uniqueness
    our unity

         The author dares us to live out of our hearts. She involves us in an intentional quest to explore the intricacies and possibilities of love. Doing so, we discover our true capacities. Maya calls the reader back to the one source. “Drink deep”, she offers. May we manifest our fullest potential, being our own unique form of “love and only love expressing.”

    Deborah M. Ball, Resident Chaplain at Queens Medical Center in Honolulu, received her Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and Master of Cultural Anthropology at University of Hawaii. She also studied and practiced under the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Plum Village, France — a place of philia and agape love.