Hearts Wide Open
We were out in nature and it was a beautiful day. My friend is a tall, Lakota man and he stretched out his legs and leaned back in the chair. We'd been drinking tea, talking about a multitude of things and then he became quiet and still, listening to me talk about something that had been bothering me about a challenging relationship. I became quiet for a time myself after I'd finished what I needed to say and I wasn't sure if he was going to comment. I looked to the sky and rain clouds were gathering. I looked to the earth and there were ants busy pulling leaves into their little colony. I drew some lines in the dirt with my toes. Finally my friend looked at me closely and said, 'Lisa, maybe it is time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Love can be uncomfortable. When we are uncomfortable, we are growing.'
Love can be uncomfortable. I needed to get comfortable with being uncomfortable… The words spun around in my head. The more we love, the more we grow. It felt like a strange shock hearing it at first and yet, I knew he was right. I knew that love was uncomfortable, the type of love that I sought would always be; that deep, longing to grow and be nourished sort of love, that was, in the words of one of my longtime friends, 'seriously uncomfortable stuff, dude.' If I were to offer it and receive it, that unfathomable unconditional love, how would everything change? How would the world around me be? How would I be?
You should probably know that I question everything. It drives my friends nuts, it drives my teachers nuts and at times I drive my own self nuts. My questions are the unanswerable ones and yet I behave as if the answers will come if I ask enough times. What is this life we have - this short experience that has so much paradox? Paradox who keeps me too close to her at times, who wears mismatched shoes and sometimes speaks like a snake. I don't think I can stop talking about her because so much of this life is filled with the breath of this sweet and bitter friend. How can everything have meaning and also mean nothing? And why is life so bittersweet in all that it offers? This bittersweet nature of life has me so deeply uncomfortable and yet if I do not take it in like air, I know that I will choke. And this is how it goes with love. To love that deeply is bittersweet. It is to love without ties, without expectation, without condition. To accept the depth of its tenderness and the depth of its pain.
In my healing work and in my lectures I have often heard love in the little stories of life and in the big stories of life as well. As I listen to others I often find myself shifting positions to the directions of secure and insecure and then back again as I think of all it takes to love others fully as they are. As I find my way inside of myself I find that I trust what my experience is of love and then something happens and I lose my trust in my capacity to perceive things as they really are. There is no real safety or security in this exploration of love. We are blind and walking without feet as the great Sufi poet, Rumi would say. And those who really are willing to go to the deepest places of what love means, well, they are the contrarians - the mavericks and sacred fools of life who are willing to risk everything for something that has no form to grasp onto.
I have known people who have lost children, who have suffered from difficult diseases, who have lost entire generations to genocide, who have suffered such great despair. Equally, I have seen people near death with light in their eyes who look at me and offer the last moments of a life in wisdom and such great love and no words. I have seen birth with its divine fingerprint and I have seen death with its own fingerprint, looking so similar in how the soul moves. One thing I know for sure, in dying no one ever says they wished they had written more e-mails or sent just a few more texts. They always say that they wished they have loved better, loved more, known how to love. They wished they had shared their love with others more. I have seen such deep beauty and I have seen such deep pain. I have seen such deep love. It all seems to comes together, tied like a braid of sweet grass.
And so, I am left with the awareness that life is short and so deeply precious. There is no penalty if we don't take in the full breath of the Father and the Mother, no. Not living life fully - not developing our gifts, not loving with our whole and vastly imperfect hearts, there is no penalty to playing it safe. And yet, playing it safe with our hearts offers only a life of half numb motions and often empty words. Loving fully is the path to all great things.
There is a place inside of me that scares me and when I stumble upon it from time to time I am surprised that it is still there. It is a place where my daughter has grown up and I find that my life has been full of purpose and yet there are gaps in time when I know I could have been more loving, kinder, more present to the needs of others. I am afraid of the pain that will come when that moment comes, how big and deep that will be. Maybe it is the sense of regret. A place of fear perhaps that connects to the idea of not recognizing the full sacredness of each moment and living it as such.
So, today, I slip off that fear, and let it drop to the ground and I encourage you to do the same. I call in Vajrapani, the Tibetan Bodhisattva who is the great remover of obstacles, so that we may love. More deeply, more truthfully, more willingly. More.