“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen
It’s easy to aspire to strength.
It’s easy to offer a solid shoulder to someone we love when they’re suffering. It’s natural, we are empathetic beings after all. We conjure thoughtful quotes, or recommend a good book, or wrap them in our arms and say, It’ll all be okay, it just takes time.
But I don’t feel okay. And every day that passes feels like a year’s worth of grief. I’m heartbroken. In the past, I’ve learned how to move on. I’ve put my head down and got through it. I got dressed and went to work. I sent well wishes into the universe with hope it would reach the soul of the person I was letting go.
And then I felt better.
But this is different. You are gone and it feels like my heart left with you. No matter how I try, nothing can make me feel better right now.
Not the yoga classes, the healing sessions, the Skype calls with loved ones, or the healthy dinners and Buddhist podcasts I force myself to gulp down every night. Not the morning meditations, or even the long cries.
I’ve been on what I consider to be “the spiritual path” for about three years now, and it seems it has all led me to this moment. I’m drawing on every tool I know. It’s easy to be smart and strong when nothing’s wrong, but what about now? What happens when we’ve lost this much?
Feeling helpless, I bowed before my altar this morning and prayed, What more can I do? Help me.
And somehow, through the roaring tidal wave of emotion, a soft and tender voice arose: Learn to live with your broken heart.
And the tears came again. I got my answer.
All week I’ve been searching for the vision of a future where my heart was mended, but nothing came through. I felt hopeless, but now I understand.
My heart will never be the same again, but I no longer want it to be.
Now, there is nothing between me and the heart of the world. The slightest eye contact brings me to tears. A genuine moment of compassion surges through my body like a river. I feel everything—everything I built a life around trying not to feel.
And while I may be broken, now I am free. I can finally put down my shield.
I know now I can no longer walk through life guarding my heart like precious china. I cannot truly love that way either. It doesn’t matter how much affection is in me if I can’t touch the world or my beloved, just like a china cup can’t serve its purpose sitting behind glass on a shelf.
I don’t want my love to be precious, like some untouchable piece of art. I want it to be ordinary, every day, and real. Just as it is built to be. I want to hold my heart in my hand every morning, glide my thumb over the chips on its edges, and know it is still worth giving. I want to offer it as I would offer my most cherished belonging. Because it is.
What more can I give than my genuine, broken heart?
In breaking, I am no longer afraid. Now, I want to love so hard that I break this much every day. Because in breaking like this, I am broken open. I am forever changed. Even if it’s what we fear most, this is actually the greatest blessing we can receive in this human life. This is how we know our whole hearts.
That isn’t to say that I don’t need healing. Because right now, my porcelain pieces are scattered on the floor. It will take great attention and care to bring my heart back together again, but I’m willing to do it because now I understand why it’s worth it. I know what I was missing.
In this moment, I am reminded of the Japanese art form called kintsugi. Translating to “patching with gold,” this craft is the process of repairing broken pottery by rejoining the clay pieces with a golden lacquer. The fractures become the most valuable places. We don’t discard and replace a perfectly good cup, we honor its breaking, illuminate the cracks, and in doing so create something even more beautiful.
So I’ve given up on trying to fix this, or even feel better, and in doing so I’ve restored my faith that somehow this heartbreak has opened me to a lifetime of genuine, raw, human love.
Now it’s time to master this craft—this healing—trusting one day, when I set the table for two, you will walk through my door with your kintsugi heart and learn how to love mine too.
Author/Editor: Danielle Beutell
Image: Paige Bradley/Instagram
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Callie Rushton