gargoyles at the doors
protecting and defending
I have been examining my relationship to vulnerability lately and challenging myself to be more open and less guarded in my relationships. It can be hard when one is sensitive to be open. Mine is such a tender heart at times! As painful as the hurt of heartbreak can be, the alternative is much more dire to me. When I allow myself to open, to express, to cry and to ask for what I need–when I allow intimacy with others (and myself for that matter), something shifts. I am softer and less judgmental.
I was talking with a friend recently about life and her tendency to work a lot and not allow quiet moments in life. I asked her what she was afraid of happening if she didn’t keep herself busy. Tears welled up in her eyes and she said, “I’m afraid of being alone.” A flood of compassion came into my heart. I can relate to that so much! I have often kept myself busy with one thing or the other to avoid being intimate with myself and others. As this pattern is shifting, I realize what I have been avoiding:
- Not being in control.
- Being seen in my imperfection(s).
- Not being enough (or being too much).
- Getting too used to something good (because what if it goes away?)
hurtshattered by love.
“There isn’t anything in this world but mad love. Not in this world. No tame love, calm love, mild love, no so-so love. And, of course, no reasonable love. Also there are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving. But, who wants easier? We dream of love, we moon about, thinking of Romeo and Juliet, or Tristan, or the lost queen rushing away over the Irish sea, all doom and splendor. Today, on the beach, an old man was sitting in the sun. I called out to him, and he turned. His face was like an empty pot. I remember his tall, pale wife; she died long ago. I remember his daughter-in-law. When she died, hard, and too young, he wept in the streets. He picked up pieces of wood, and stones, and anything else that was there, and threw them at the sea. Oh, how he loved his wife. Oh, how he loved young Barbara. I stood in front of him, not expecting any answer yet not wanting to pass without some greeting. But his face had gone back to whatever he was dreaming. Something touched me, lightly, like a knife-blade. I felt I was bleeding, though just a little, a hint. Inside I flared hot, then cold. I thought of you. Whom I love, madly.”
(March, by Mary Oliver, from White Pine, p.53)
As I deconstruct those walls around my heart, I become less interested in all the maintenance that those fortresses require. Here’s my new vision:
Where I live, I am surrounded by a field of wild flowers. The moat is now a clear stream and there is a lovely, arching bridge leading up the house. What was once a stone castle is a house with lots of glass windows to let the light in and to allow me to see the beauty outside. I can shut the curtains sometimes when I need privacy but I’m not afraid of the glass shattering. It’s just glass, it can be replaced. Inside, there used to be a courtyard made of cold stone with a tree that was dying due to the lack of light. Now, there is a rose garden, bountiful herbs, a fountain, and a healthy, fruit-bearing tree.
This garden sometimes hosts great parties complete with fools and troubadours and sometimes, it’s just me watering the flowers in the sunlight writing about you who I love madly.