Saturday, April 12, 2014

on matters of the heart

A little girl in my class has been anxious about coming to school because she's afraid of one of the other kids. It's sort of a long story, and the dynamics of any classroom (and human relationships in general) are complicated, but her mom emailed a friend of mine that no longer works at the school about the situation. This friend shared that email with me. In it, the mom said she talked to her daughter about how there will be people in the world who are unkind, and she needed to "build a little wall around her heart" to keep it safe.

And I can't stop thinking about it. While it's odd that I found out about all this secondhand, what bothers me more is the idea of walling off one's heart. Most adults have learned to do this so well that we have trouble ever opening up again. The wall becomes a fortress over time. And I, for one, have spent quite a bit of time and money figuring out how to tear down my internal steel and stone in order to live more fully.

Walking today, gazing at my sleeping baby in the stroller, I contemplated what I'd tell him if confronted with a similar issue. I think I'd talk him through the hard stuff, then tell him that we need to keep our hearts open anyway. Acknowledge that there is unkindness and suffering in the world, feel it deeply, and then consciously decide to remain vulnerable, to live boldly and courageously, without walls. 

I can't protect Caleb from pain, but I can show him how to repeatedly focus his lens on goodness and beauty. To "look for the helpers." To be compassionate, forgiving, and brave. And I can help him to know that, no matter what, I will carry his heart in mine. Always and always, forever.