Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings by Edward McLachlan.
This is an illustration from a book based on a British children’s animated television program. It featured Simon’s magical chalkboard-come-true adventures. Read more about it on Burgin Streetman’s terrific blog, Vintage Kids’ Books My Kid Loves.
I was startled on Tuesday while packing. (We’re moving to Florida.)
This is what happened:
I found a book my daughter created and surprised me with on my 50th birthday. In it are pictures and writings celebrating my life submitted by family and friends.
Vaguely recalling the gift, I carried the book to my chair and sat and read it. Slowly and consciously. I looked at each photograph and drawing. I read each remembrance. It took about an hour.
I laughed with joy. I felt like I was awake and alive for my own eulogy.
Here is the shocking part: I didn’t remember having ever read it. It felt brand new. How could that be? Of course, I read the book when I received it.
I realized that I did not take it in. It seems that 13 years ago I was not able to feel the encouraging and nourishing messages, the kindness and love.
Through self-exploration (with help from teachers), I uncovered a wall around my heart made of invisible blocks made up of hindering patterns and habits from past experiences. Inner wounds are past experiences that block my understanding of the world, others, and myself.
Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem gives me insight.
His song suggests that there are already cracks in my heart (from life’s wounds) to let the light or insight in. I’m already honed to receive love. Those wounds have a purpose.
So now when someone says something encouraging or nice, no deflecting. No changing the subject or minimizing or puffing up the message. I pause to be with it just as I am aware of other feelings. When someone gives, I attend to it without fuss. I allow the words or actions to seep into those cracks and transform me in a way that helps me remember something important: to send this love I feel to all others.
NOTE: Authors such as Brené Brown, Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt, Harriet Lerner, and Thich Nhat Hanh offer insight into the difficulty to receive love, which also affects the depth of being able to give love.