New year, new beginnings, fresh starts… and I’m crying 30 minutes after getting up this morning because somebody said something well intentioned that unfortunately struck my sensitivity chord. Plus the internet was down robbing me of my cherished morning lap top and coffee time I had so been looking forward to.

Sigh… having an expectation that today should be a sunny day filled with excitement over a new year, this was not how I expected myself to kick off 2013. Yet the tears are involuntary and demand more than request they be allowed to flow, so I sniffle and wonder how this moment fits in with my New Years intention that declared 2013 “The Year of the Peaceful Heart.”

I am challenged to think about what a peaceful heart really means. I mistake peace for happy sometimes. I love to feel happy. Sunny joy that kind of bubbles up inside and spills over leaving trails of flowers and hearts and smiley faces wherever I go. Everything feels magical and wonder filled and well… happy.

Peace isn’t the same as happiness. Though I much prefer the state of happy, the truth of the matter is that if you’re living authentically happiness sort of seems to come and go, because you must open yourself up to not only the things that bring you great joy, but an awareness of the world that can bring great sorrow. One cannot exist without the other.  Or at least I have found this to be true in my tiny corner of the world.

And so I sit here thinking about how one can bring peace to their heart when they have been through a period of time that has been more heavy laden than they would have preferred and at times even sorrowful. Some of that heaviness seems to be pooling over into the new year and turning my expectation of a clear day into party sunny chance of showers.

I welcome and embrace joy when it comes, but the little girl drying tears from her eyes this morning because her feelings are hurt and she cannot get online dammit, does not feel particularly joyous. She does feel real though. Real, raw, authentic.

I reflect that peace is gracious and welcoming. Peace builds bridges and comes with the message of fluid hope that tells me everything works itself out in it’s own time and I am exactly where I need to be in this moment. Tears and all. I reflect on a favorite quote by Rumi and try to take his advice and welcome the sadness into my guesthouse. I ask it to have a seat and tell me of it’s sorrows, help me learn what it has to show me.

It has a lot to say.  I serve it tea, cake, and sympathy. I thank it for the wisdom it has to share. I find that instead of rejecting and telling it to go away so I can fake sunny, I have cleared space for it instead. As it turns out, the offer of space was all it really wanted in the first place and after finishing the last drop of tea it thanks me for being a gracious host and quietly takes it leave.

I am left with a few specks of cake crumbs and a sense of solidarity with myself. A wholeness that comes from embracing all of me… not just the sunny side but the side that can rain on a parade with the best of them as violins sadly play in the background and a tiny kitten pitifully cries. Solidarity…. wholeness… embracing all…I think these might just be the stuff of which a peaceful heart is made.

What a journey of peace this year will be. Welcome 2013. We have tea and cake waiting for you and plenty of space in the heart for the lessons you bring.