December 03, 2021
How to keep the tender-hearted from becoming callous.
The journey of life can really expose us to some pretty unpleasant shocks. Fortunately, life hasn't jolted me with being hit by lightening, but I'm sure the state of 'stunned disbelief', experienced immediately afterwards, is exactly the same feeling I've often felt following some of my surprise moments of loss or betrayal. I've been in such a state of dumbfounded, “What just happened?” that I've often wondered if I wasn't the lead in a Twilight Zone spin off. Of course a sudden state of confusion like this, can often lead one into even ‘more’ distress, because when we don't have answers for these types of open-ended questions, we just start feeling very unsure and insecure. Apprehension starts us wondering whether this could happen again, and this leaves us feeling exposed, vulnerable, and defenseless. I mean if it could happen once, surely it could happen again. Lightening has struck twice ― right?
Then, what's the thing to do when we feel vulnerable and afraid of being hurt again? We tend to start layering a protective coating over the old heart ― the centre that preserves our feelings of certainty, peace, and love ― that's what. How do we do that? Well, like a painter using the impasto technique to build thick layers of paint on a canvas, we begin dipping our brush into the reservoir of painful memories and start stroking heavy effects of sorrow over the surface of our well-beingness. Sometimes we can lay it on pretty thick too. Before we know it, the canvas of our heart, which is usually transparent enough to reflect love's radiant white light, now starts to become heavy and clouded with the darkness of gloom, and just like in the image above, parts of the beauty and innocence of the rose become no longer visible. If left to time, we lose sight of who we are altogether and become hardened.
Therefore, thank goodness for those tender-hearted ones...
…who maintain a clarity, by quietly refusing to join us in our vision of confusion and despair. No matter how dark the scene gets, they're willing to stand by in the certainty of who we truly are and shine that light in our presence instead. They're basically the ones who respect our freedom to create whatever image we want to create about ourselves and our lives, ‘yet’ they're also the ones holding an original sketch of what our heart still looks like behind our shadows. And then when we're ready to drop a little of our skepticism about life and choose to re-paint a different impression, they're the ones present with a palette of love's true colours for us to work with. It's also these wise souls that remind us, that even though the bush of life may very well be covered in thorns, and we may indeed brush up against some sharp and painful ones, there's also no need to become hard and prickly like one, or more importantly resent them either, because it's the thorns, in contrast to the rose, that provide us an awareness on just how soft and beautiful a flower actually is. In essence, they're not interested in empathizing with our woes, which would only mirror back to us our suffering, instead they're interested in reflecting, as the journal cover’s message says, “...the presence of your tenderness...," which is exactly what they are.
So, the next time you're in a position to be compassionate, remember, that in order to save a heart, it takes heart.
"Compassion is when someone is tempted to let their heart harden, but the presence of your tenderness won't let them."
Photograph: Black and white image of a rose against a black background.
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