We use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream, a child lost before their time. Heartbreak, we hope, is something we can avoid; something to guard against, a chasm to be carefully looked for and then walked around; the hope is to find a way to place our feet where the elemental forces of life will keep us in the manner to which we want to be accustomed and which will keep us from the losses that all other human beings have experienced without exception since the beginning of conscious time. But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way…
Very mixed weather in Ireland this week, snow on Wednesday followed by warm sunshine on Friday. Our experience too can be mixed, with encouraging moments at times and moments when discouragement reigns
But patiently, underneath it all, something emerges and we learn to let go…
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
One must — as in a swimming pool —
dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order to later rise again —
laughing and fighting for breath — to the now doubly illuminated surface of things
When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.
David Whyte, Vulnerability
photo aditya maurya
More on the desert theme which is central to Lent.
The original desert experience was that of the Hebrew slaves who escaped from Egypt. But Egypt has always been understood as more than just a place. Indeed the word for “Egypt” in Hebrew – Mitzraim – means “a narrow place.” So “going out from Egypt” can mean going from a narrow place where we are stuck, from repeating patterns of behaviour, from a sense of ourselves as weak or defective, to a wider sense, a place where we are free. The desert is a symbol for the space to face what holds us back, which we often think cannot be changed and will keep us stuck forever:
The only permanent thing about our behaviour patterns
is our belief that they are so