I’m a sucker for a lot of things, chocolate, birthdays, the opportunity to surprise people, Christmas, the little people in my life, a perfectly feminine dress, good conversations, laughter, and window seats in coffee shops. This post comes from my window seat in a coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles on a perfectly sunny Sunday morning, with a cup of green tea, and a heart on the mend. It’s been a rough couple weeks. My heart has been wounded. I have been wounded. In fact last week, as I prepared for bed, I bothered to look in my bathroom mirror for longer than 10 seconds and I knew the image staring back at me was wounded. I was disappointed that I looked wounded and dismissed the thought of tending to the wound. That was until the next morning when I received word that a woman who had taught me so much about grace, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness died.
The wound was gushing, but I called my parents in tears, creatively continued putting on socks and boots, checking to make sure my flat iron was unplugged, lunch for the day was retrieved from the fridge, and that I wrapped up the conversations in enough time to lock up and walk to the train station. I refused to let my mind wander. I struggled not to let my mind wonder. I wanted to focus on work but I was wounded there. Within days of returning from vacation a few weeks ago I learned one of my clients died. I wanted to focus on home but things with my housemate had been unpredictability difficult and I was struggling to reestablish the peace I was so used to when I lived alone. I was wounded. I wanted to focus on the day ahead, but I how when the same woman who had impacted my life did the same and had been friends with my mother for over 20 years. I was wounded. I pushed my self through the day, despite crumbling into tears in the office of a colleague,pulling it together and my eyes filling with tears when another colleague simply asked how I was doing, witnessing what had to be a miracle when I maintained composure and focus after a student came in and shared her mother died recently.
I made it home, made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner,and was grateful when a friend stopped by with one of my favorite junkfoods. We talked. I talked, she listened. The wound stopped gushing but it was still exposed. I still felt exposed, raw, opened, vulnerable. The next morning I woke up, wounded, and decided tit was best to take sick day. My supervisor was pleased with my decision. Even she knew I had a hurting heart. I meandered around the house, firmly tugging my mind away from anything remotely painful. My tugs were soon defeated when I thought of both of the deaths I was trying to navigate grieving. They both died of heart issues. Never mind that one was barely 20 and the other barely over 60. Their hearts were no longer able to provide life for them.
Photo courtesy of me, art work courtesy of Scott Erikson
“Interesting” I muttered. And it was interesting. At least to me, the non biologist, doctor, scientist or remotely learned in the intricacies of the human body. It was interesting that despite the health of their brains, limbs, and other organs if the heart was unhealthy and stopped, everything else stopped. Life stopped. The heart holds life. When the heart is sick we are sick. When the heart stops, we stop. When the essence of who we are, and who we were created to be is sick, we are sick. When the essence of who we are and who we were created to be stops, we stop. It takes heart to live. It takes hopes, dreams, beliefs, convictions to live. When those things and any of the things that give us life diminish, we diminish. When they die, we die.
I spent the rest of my day off packing a few final things for my trip to Los Angeles the next morning to attend The Justice Conference. I didn’t want to go anymore. I wanted to stop. I didn’t want to put on a happy face, dress my wounds, and carry on. That wasn’t an option however. And, sitting here in this seat by the window, sunshine gently stroking my face, writing this post, I am so very grateful that not attending wasn’t an option. I am so grateful that I came because spending time engaging in conversations, attending workshops, quietly sitting in the beauty of a garden, meeting people’s who hearts beat for social justice soothed my heart and strengthened it’s beat. I spent days focused on something that brings me life, that reminds me of why I exist.
I am still wounded. My heart still hurts. Hearts hurt when people die, when relationships go awry, when navigating new or the unknown seems impossible, when hope is leaking and no matter how fast we try to refill it it seems to eternally get closer to empty. But wounds must be dressed in order to heal. They must be acknowledged, examined, cleaned, bandaged, and treated with caution and care as it heals. Furthermore some wounds, even after they heal and regain strength, leave scars- reminders of the wound, reminders that mending is possible. I am going to continue to take time to dress my wounds. And so that might mean a few less post in the coming weeks. Outside of this blog I know it will mean taking more time away from the office. It will mean more time not electronically connected and more intentionally connected to other life giving sources. But well, I need my heart’s beat to get stronger. I need to up the anty on that which gives me life.
My prayer for you this week is that if you’re wounded, that you’d take time to dress the wound. If you’re heart’s beat is becoming faint, that you’d stop and allow it to regain it’s strength. Return to those things, places, people, that bring forth life in your life and step away from the things that don’t. Remember, it takes heart to LIVE.