Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Open to love

Because the Christmas season spawns such a wide range of emotions, comments by one of my favorite poets and writers, Mark Nepo, caught my attention the other day. In his The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, he says: "Perhaps the most stubborn thing that keeps us from knowing love is distrust. Certainly, we have more than enough reason in our world to be cautious, alert, and guarded against being hurt or taken advantage of....

"The question we must ask, that I ask myself every day," he continues, "is which is more debilitating: to be cut off from love or to be scarred by the pain of being hurt?"

It's so easy when life continues to leave its scars on our hearts and our lives to withdraw a bit further with each scarring and become a bit "gun-shy." However, that just removes us further from any possibility of healing. It reminds me of a time in my life when I'd been deeply hurt and feared going back into a situation where I thought I'd face more hurt and perhaps no small amount of judgment. My wise sister told me, "Go back there with your heart open and your head high." She was right.

For, as Nepo says, "... there is no other doorway into kindness and all its gifts but through the gentle risk to open ourselves, however slightly ...." Not easy. But worth doing!

Whatever you're feeling today, whether it's utter joy or absolute sadness and loneliness, be with the feeling. Be honest and real about it. If you're sad, be loving, gentle and compassionate with yourself. And try to open yourself, ever so slightly, to more of the gifts of kindness that are around you—perhaps in places you didn't expect.

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