You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens. -Rumi
Prepare to take in a tale, for I have been thinking about Love: Love with a capital L to signify the peculiar state that undergirds the Universe, that springs from Spirit and Soul, that motivates untold passions and perceptions in its earthly guises, and that binds us to the Divine for all eternity.
It was the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, who declared in no uncertain terms: God is Love. When my mother, a student of the Science at the time, first shared this idea with me, I was in my twenties, disappearing into the throes of what would be a fraught five-plus-year relationship. My pleas for insight—to family, friends, and shrinks— gleaned ample support and what I am sure was excellent advice. My heart, however, had chained itself to an untapped need to make someone—even a nullifying, acerbic, distancing someone—love me. As he taunted, pulled away, and then artfully soothed me to regain access to my heart, I became lulled by the predictable rhythm of the demeaning game: What I called “love” had become a code word for the ceaseless to-and-fro between torment and succor.
Suicide entered my mind more than once: What such an act would do to my family paused the thoughts. And deep within my Soul, I felt the stirrings of what would become my life’s path: God kept calling, reminding me of our talks when I was very small; I saw the little-girl Me perched on my bed, gazing out the dormer window at the stars in the night sky, certain that that was God’s house. As young-woman Me struggled to stay alive—to have Hope, to feel Love (for somehow, somewhere, I knew that Love would not make me feel less-than, self-loathing, or suicidal)—I prayed: As God called to me from within, I desperately tried to have a conversation.
And I made it through: Grace of God is no catch-phrase—it is a real, true gift. I was blessed by the sudden appearance of a beautiful young man, and the spell of nearly six years of strife was broken. My bruised and bloodied heart bounced into the arms of this kind, creative soul: He loved me, history and all. We were together for 10 years, and then he needed a change. I understood, and we remained deeply connected, our bond one that helped both of us to evolve.
Then, while flirting with the idea of “trying again,” he came to me with a question: What would I think if he married a girl who needed a Green Card? Flabbergasted, then angry, I demanded an explanation: What had been going on between us? When had this other person captivated his attention? My heart flinched, and then, without a backward glance, burrowed down deep out of harm’s way, resolved to forever hibernation. My ex married, had a child, and my heart has stayed quiet, deep in the padded walls of the Soul Sanitarium: I willingly—eagerly—committed my heart to the chambers of rest and rehabilitation, and there it has remained for nearly 15 years.
Friends and family wondered at first when I would begin “looking” or “dating.” My answer was, for so very long, unequivocally, “Never.” I begrudgingly offered a caveat: “He would have to be Heaven-sent; I would know if he were sent from God, and then maybe…” But as years went by, any need or desire for earthly love yielded entirely to devotion to God, which Mrs. Eddy reminded us is Love. Certainly, as a vital human being, I have flirted and wondered from time to time: Almost immediately, though, I would think of my heart, and the vow I had made to it: never to subject it to the inherent uncertainty and pain of love in the form of romantic relationship.
Until now. Of course, Love is ever-present—as is the Divine—and intellect and ego can stifle it for only so long. To be clear, I love: family, friends, the special dogs my life, and above all, God’s presence and guidance. The love of which I speak—the kind that connects one to a longterm partner here on planet Earth—is the love from which I have detached. My attempt to disengage from that bear of an emotion, that wildest of states, has accomplished only a quieting of its call; if Love—real Love, sent from God— wants me to dance, I may have to accept.
Much to my bewilderment, and unsettling to my nerves, is the dawning of this feeling over the course of the last month or so. The man who stirred this particular pot is someone I know only in the briefest of professional passings. He has, however, triggered these thoughts and emotions that I so laboriously buried: buried, and then piled a fresh layer of cover with each passing year, just so that I would not possibly unearth my heart and subject it to the whims of love. I know not this man’s first name; I know nothing about him, save that he has two dogs.
What I have realized is that this man likely does not bring the Love of which I speak; he does, however, represent a chance for me to confront my fears with regard to Love. Further, his presence coincides with this time in my life where so much is shifting, not the least of which are my perspectives on Aging, Truth, and Love. As my mother, who has serious cognitive impairment (yet suddenly, occasionally spouts precious pearls of wisdom), said to me recently: “Life is different now: How I felt about something then can be very different than how I feel about it now.”
And such is the case with me and Love. Am I ready for it? I “practice” scenarios, often with Mystery Man as my partner. Those long-buried emotions geyser-shoot to the surface: Twenty- and 30-something Me at first takes over my imagined scenes; I cringe, cry, and scurry to protect my heart. Then, I remind myself that time has passed; I have evolved in Spirit; and my heart wants to serve its purpose. And with that, I realize that I can keep my heart safe and open. For me, the Years of the Hidden Heart freed me to open my heart and soul to the great, good, kind Love that is God. And if God is sending a message through my heart, I trust that the message is Love.
The very center of your heart is where life begins… –Rumi