2018 was a year of limp hands.
Fists clenched so tightly, were forced open – forced to let go.
While a painful lesson, there is a lot of freedom that comes from losing what you thought you couldn’t live without. Because I now know that I can – in fact – live without it. And I can, now, love more freely.
With palms open, not only can we receive much more than when they are closed, we can also allow what should no longer be there – to leave.
Goodbye stranger, goodbye stranger, I wish you all the best.
Ultimately, nothing really belongs to us. Life itself is a gift – something we received through no fault of our own – and something which can be taken from us at any moment; and will be gone inevitably, eventually.
Therefore, each day is a gift. Each day we are allowed to breathe and smile and cry and laugh, is something given to us and something we cannot hold on to too tightly….because it really wasn’t ours to begin with.
We are not our own. We didn’t have a say in when or how we got here and we won’t have a say in when or how we go.
Just as we are not our own, others – even more so – are not ours for the taking.
I learned that to those we come to know, we come to love, our hearts are much like our homes.
We can open the door and let them in, we can show them around and make them feel welcome. Some may stay only momentarily, so when they leave it is easy to go back to business as usual. Some, however, may stay for a while. Make themselves comfortable and become at home in ours.
We may become accustomed to their presence, attached to it. And even in those moments, we have to remember that most people will leave, eventually. Very few people come into our homes to stay forever. And even those who make themselves at home, who leave an imprint during their extended stay, will most likely show themselves out, at some point.
Down the highways, and the byways, may something bring you rest.
Their emptiness will be noted – we may grieve our loss for a while – look around at the house and find that it is not the same, maybe that it doesn’t even feel like home anymore. We may notice a scratch here or spill there caused by them at some point – and while we may resent it now that they are gone, this imperfection is proof that our house was lived in – that it was a home.
We cannot undo their visit, nor should we, as it is an important part of the history – and ultimately – identity of the place. A place that is not merely our own, a place that we had the courage to share with someone else – knowing that they could likely cause damage, that they would make it different by their presence – we are changed because of it.
You see, we could close off our homes to outsiders. We could lock the door and remain inside for the duration of our lives. We could glance out the window from time to time and wonder what it would be like if we threw the door open, but never take the risk.
However, to me an empty home is very dissatisfactory. Not a home, really. I think a home is at it’s best when full. To be a ‘home’ requires that someone be ‘at home’ there. And that is what I think our hearts are…homes.
And so, we can close the blinds and lock the doors – refusing anyone entrance for the sake of our own safety; or we can open the door to whomever knocks, and enjoy their stay – however long – seeing it as a gift, an opportunity to love without reservation or expectation of something in return.
So 2018 was a year of learning this hard-earned lesson. Of realizing that just because you let someone in, doesn’t mean they will stay. And just because they don’t stay, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have let them in.
I ain’t easy, but I ain’t cold
Come back my way if you’re feelin’ low.
2018 was a year of limp hands.
My hope for 2019 is that it will be a year of receptivity. A year of open hands, ready to receive whatever lands in them.
Whether it be for a brief visit, or an extended stay, or even a guest who decides to make my home theirs, I hope to be open and responsive to whomever shows up at my doorstep.
If this life is a gift – I think it is a gift that is best shared with others. Otherwise it ceases to be a gift and instead turns into a mere act of self-preservation.
This song, ‘Hold on Loosely’ was introduced to me months back while I was still grappling with my clenched fists. While at first it didn’t quite sink in, I have come to realize the wisdom that these lyrics hold.
It’s a song about the understanding that your loved ones are not an extension of yourself. They are ‘other’ and deserve to be treated as such. We can respect differences, admire their person and leave them plenty of room to breathe; room to choose us – freely.
I hope, in 2019, to have the courage to open the door. To make my home beautiful and keep it so, not for my own sake, but for the person who seeks rest and refuge there some day.
Because otherwise my home will be an empty one, which really isn’t a home at all, only a house.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
2018 had definitive highs and lows. But I guess that is life, and really how we grow. ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.’
2019 is to be a year of hope. It’s a new beginning, a new chapter. We must be emptied before we can be filled, and in 2018 my hands were emptied.
There are good things ahead, dear friends.
What did you learn in 2018? And what are your dreams for 2019?