Tuesday, July 29, 2008

That window in my heart

What change! I am, at what I still refer to as, 'home' although I first left it over thirty years ago! Since then, I have visited, on average, once every two to three years. Yet, it remains a place of strong sentiments, triggered by memories that awaken unpredictably.

Voices, smells, scenes that I rush past in a moving car, a name mentioned here, family friends who drop by without warning, certain that they are always welcome, and they are of course... All these and more remind me of a time and place and family that are no more, in some sense, yet by no means lost. They are all there, every bit of them, in the secure vaults of my memory, released, from time to time, by daily moments.

I watch my oldest brother, a shadow of his former self following an operation several months ago to remove a tumour in his brain. I watch his inability to care for himself or to speak for himself. I watch as he is fed and cleaned and changed by a number of caring, competent hands. I watch as he is prompted to speak and answer questions as if a child. I watch as if I had expected to see all this. I watch as I become aware that regardless of my expectations, I have been shocked and I am deeply, deeply saddened.

I find myself resisting old memories, fearing that they will only make the difference between what was and what is simply too unbearable. It is better, I say to myself, to remain right here and now. And mostly I do. But in the two days that I have been here, I have sobbed in the confines of our daily family prayer. This has been the only time when the gulf between Life Was and Life Is has stretched so far that it has torn the heart which holds all three.

How can the human being have such indignity enforced on it? How can what so majestically was have become so unceremoniously is? And yet, these moment to moment displays of tenderness, caring, patience, unconditional love, encouragement, faith...where do these come from, if not from that same gulf which separates was and is? It is as if a window has appeared in my heart and through it, I see god in many forms.

Listen, open a window to God
and begin to delight yourself
by gazing upon Him through the opening.
The business of love is to make that window in the heart,
for the breast is illumined by the beauty of the Beloved.
Gaze incessantly on the face of the Beloved!
Listen, this is in your power, my friend!

Jalal-al-Din Rumi


  1. The pain of one is truly the pain of all.
    Like a butterfly settled upon the palm of a benevolent hand, a fragile gift, at once liberated yet bound by its own being.
    We cannot understand how such ephemeral beauty has the strength to find direction in the wind.
    Nor can we quite see - that the understanding, the beauty, the liberty, the chains, the wind and the pain - are all a part of that same gift.

    In my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Fragile indeed, and tender beyond imagination. Yet, the threads of love that hold us all are unbelievably strong.

    Thank you for your presence and prayers Tim.