I don’t want to follow my heart ever again, for I can no longer bear the pain of the places it takes me.
I just don’t want to be vulnerable.
When I read Khalil Gibran‘s masterpiece, The Prophet, recently, I was in a place where I felt closed off.
I might love and accept myself. I might believe with every ounce of my being that those who hurt me were hurting and never had the intention of harming me. Yet, none of this means that I am not afraid of getting hurt again by a beautiful, yet wounded human being.
But Gibran’s words were so profound and spoke to me loud and clear. He makes a connection between love and vulnerability; genuine connection cannot be achieved without raw openness.
Here is what he teaches us about love:
1. His first and foremost teaching is to live with an open heart. Have faith in love and don’t worry too much about where it takes you. Expect that genuine love could be the opposite of all that you have calculated.
“When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.”
2. Love will slit your heart open and touch you to the very core. It is not perfect. It is not happily ever after. It’s real. It’s heaven and it’s earth. It is human.
“For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.”
3. If you are not willing to experience love fully and tend to avoid the depths of real human experience, do not seek love.
“But if in your heart you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.”
4. Love honors space.
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love;
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.”
5. If you choose to experience the depths of love, pray for openness and vulnerability (above all else):
“To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”
May we break the walls that we’ve built to guard our tender loving hearts. May we never keep silent when it comes to love. May we love and break, and love and break, and have the courage to pick up the little broken pieces of our hearts and love again—every single time.
May love, always and forever, be our path to growth.