No doubt my mind and critic and protector voices and judges all stand in line between me and the computer, ranting and reeling off all the reasons why it is not a good use of my time to sit down and write. So today I snuck in…I held my breath and got very small and silent and snaked my body between theirs and here I am. Shhhh….
And now, I wonder what of these defenses that we dance with daily and how did they get so strong in our lives, and my curiosity about what is at stake when we allow them to rule. Each morning when I walk with Ubuntu in my new neighborhood, I walk by a sign that was posted by the local fire fighting authorities. It shows a child like image of a home and flames and speaks about “DEFENSIBLE SPACE”. They, of course, are talking about protection of our homes from fire and the need to cut back the trees and bushes that could be fuel for a fire. My eyes read it as a warning about something far more personal and important. The sign speaks of ownership and home or hearth. I speak of letting go and love and our vulnerable hearts. They condone and urge the making of defensible spaces and I, I want to talk about the possibility of an undefended heart.
Fear is a tremendously dangerous catalyst in our world. It instigates unbelievably violent actions taken in defense of our hearts and our property and more….violent in obvious ways and violent in subtle and perhaps far more damaging ways. Past experiences live in us and are triggered by similar events in our lives, thus creating fear which automatically seems to ask for defense.
I am not rejecting the idea of protecting your houses here…no doubt it has its merits, but I am inviting contemplation about the ways that we defend our hearts and in so doing, we close those very same hearts that want only to love, but lose that option when they are protected. The open heart is the one with the opportunity to love and be loved. When that door is closed…sealed by a defensible space around it….no real love can flow.
The defended heart is so reasonable…we have been hurt before and we are terrified to feel that again and yet….and yet….we risk a growing numbness when we choose to defend...a heart that grows cold. And that wall that we build is so reassuring to the mind that we spend countless hours fortifying those defensible spaces. We are so sure that we have convinced ourselves that this is what is best for our hearts.
but is it really?
Poet Ranier Maria Rilke reminds us that it is in our vulnerability that we find our greatest strength.
Have you ever noticed that once we have the space and time to breathe and reflect after a painful situation has been disarmed and we can sit down with the person involved and gaze into their eyes, and if we can share our truths with each other from a diffused and very human space, that suddenly a flow of love is present again and we feel it going both directions? It’s so miraculous!
Defense is for basketball and football and the strategies of mind. The heart does not work with defense…it is rendered unworkable, numb, paralyzed.
There is a song that has a verse that goes like this “Where there’s fear there can be no love. Where there’s love there can be no fear…”
What an important reminder.
Breathe deeply into your heart today and see if it is open and flowing. Notice if there is a defended place around it and approach that space with kid gloves...with kindness and care. Listen to the fear that built it. Let it speak.
Don’t cut back that which makes your heart go aflame, for hearts are made to burn with passion, to be warm with compassion, to be accompanied and held in a nest of wild growing things so that it is not set aside and alone but rather, is there breathing and daring to feel it all. Our intelligent hearts open and close on their own accord…many times each moment…that keeps us alive and our blood pumping… we do not need to defend them. It may take our whole lifetime to learn that. Take the first step now.