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Smiling, and the Gateway of the Heart

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

The Garden Gate

Out of iron a heart becomes

a tree, a shadow, a reminder

of what's inside.

Hummingbirds fly through it

and each day we swing it open

for the mail, a walk, a trip to


Look inside and see

for yourself, and smile.

This picture is of the lower part of the front gate to our home in Sedona, Arizona. It's based on a gate my wife saw in Phoenix, and we've been very happy with it. As you can see in the photograph, its design is based around a tree - you can see the shadows of its leaves on the steps leading up to our courtyard. Its roots are the real focus of this photograph, however. As you can see, the central roots form an upside-down heart, and its shadow creates the right-side up shape of this heart. Each time I approach this gate, whether to get the mail or take a walk, I pause to enjoy the gate, its shadow, and especially the heart shadow formed by the roots. I find myself smiling at its beauty and how it connects me to the joy in my heart.

What a wonderful symbol for us to hold in our awareness - a doorway to our home greeting us with a heart. But what is a heart? It's often a metaphor for love, courage, and kindness. What a nice way to be reminded of our hearts each time we pass through this gate!

Thinking about this topic makes me aware of how we speak about the heart: we can be whole-hearted or strong-hearted, half-hearted or weak-hearted. We say someone is light-hearted or heavy-hearted. There are so many ways we refer to the qualities of our heart or of those we know.

This is also making me think about the various ways I walk through life, and the "heartedness" I embrace as I do. Interestingly, research has shown that smiling has a direct effect on the heart, and I've discovered that smiling to myself even slightly relaxes me and puts me at peace. This is another kind of "gateway" to the heart!

Perhaps you might enjoy experimenting with smiling during times throughout your day, and see how your heart responds. Here's a very interesting article you can read on how smiling has many health benefits.

If you have an interesting story about about a time you were affected by smiling, please write about it in the comments section below.

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Jul 29, 2022

Yes! Joy causes smiles and smiles cause joy! That first phrase goes without saying, but the second phrase might seem a bit counterintuitive. I've read some informal studies, however, that tend to confirm that the mere act of smiling lifts one's mood. But smiling not only benefits the smiler; it also creates a civil ambiance that allows those with the smiler to enter their comfort zone and join in the smiling and joy. Smiling is contagious!

Whenever I see a beautifully composed image like Paul's Gateway to the Heart, I have an urge to jump into the picture, grab a comfortable patio chair and an iced tea, and just sit in the balmy afternoon for a couple of hours wondering…

Jul 29, 2022
Replying to

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and sense of wonder! I very much enjoy writing these pieces knowing that your mind and heart connect with them. May they continue to give you joy!

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