Tender and Exposed

I’m suffering a bit of tenderness lately and feeling rather exposed.  Vulnerable exposed, not the other kind.  A credible source warned me that the price of opening the soul was a shedding of the shell that protects us from the harsh world.  He was right. Two weeks after kirtan, I’m finally sleeping (mostly) and finding the energy inside more manageable.  I’m able to move it a bit more easily, increasing it when desired and lower it when needed.  I’d call it containable now, although not controllable.

I doubt the energy of the universe, of the divine, of love, is meant to be controlled.

I’m further along in my exploration of chant, reading Russill Paul’s Yoga of Sound slowly, re-reading often, allowing this magnificent work sink into my mind and heart.  I’m sure more than one reading will be necessary.  Russill Paul explores chant from a Hindu and Christian perspective, which he pulls off authentically, since both are part of his religious tradition.  While I no longer consider myself Christian, I appreciate his use of the teaching of Jesus, as this is a religious man I know something about.  Leaving the Catholic church did not mean abandoning the teachings of Jesus, as his message of love and acceptance, his teachings of loving kindness and compassion, continue to shape my theology and spirituality today.

But I’m so raw and tender.  Harsh noises and smells still strike me in ways discordant with the continuing vibration of my soul.  Since my children and our foster kittens produce both in abundance, I’m challenged on both fronts to manage the irritability that comes with this discord.  More difficult is my tender heart.  Last night, while flitting between Facebook and an email while listening to chant, I found myself in tears.  For the past several years, tears have been a common companion as I struggled through my separation and divorce, but these tears were different.

After posting about a delightful meeting with new parents and their 2 1/2 week old daughter (as a La Leche League Leader, I occasionally meet parents face-to-face).  I’d spoken with the mom several times, and she needed more reassurance than could come through the phone.  The couple and child came to my house, and I spend an hour and a half giving some breastfeeding advice, chatting about their transition to parenthood, and encouraging them to trust their own growing knowledge about their child.  I think the visit helped them, but I know it touched me deeply.  I’ve always felt honored to enter people’s lives at this precious point of welcoming new life.  I’ve listened to many a mom cry in despair in those tender weeks after birth and listened to countless concerns, advising some but encouraging moms to listen to their intuition and trust their ability to parent.  This visit was different.

Perhaps it was the circumstances of the past few weeks, entering their lives at such a raw time for them when I was raw as well.  Perhaps they seemed familiar, facing challenges together with a new baby, so much in love and so overwhelmed at the same time.  Likely it was a mixture.  I posted a blurb about the encounter on Facebook, my social network of choice, and the response from my co-leaders blew me away.  The love started moving in my direction.  Tender and raw, heart already full, I overflowed with tears.  Not the tears of pain, anger, loss, and sorrow that had been my companions the past few years, but tears of joy.  Tears from a heart bursting with love for this family, for my friends who give me their love, and for, well, everyone.

Mystic Poet Rumi

Chant still playing, I read some Rumi.  This did nothing to stem the tears, of course.  Rumi, a mystical poet from the 13th century, writes prolifically about divine love, using romantic love as metaphor.  Almost a millenium later, his writings strike to the core of love — love from one soul to another, love with the divine.  So of course, my weeping persisted.

Sleep brought rest, and morning soon followed.  Still tender and raw, feeling completely without shell or shelter, I went through the day, yet still utterly exposed.  Tears sprung forth at seemingly random moments.  We’ve had some busy days lately, and today continued the trend.  While running errands with my younger, I turned on a Krishna Das CD and let the music and Sanskrit roll over me and into me.  The energy turned, and my sense of balance returned, yet I feel as vulnerable before.  I’d somewhat disregarded my friend’s warning about this tender sense:  I’m largely among friends and family, after all.  How could the world blindside me?

And now I know.  The magnitude of the soul, the divine, of love, our the true essence of each of us is nearly unbearable yet bear it we must if we’re to live fully.   It’s all louder now:  the sounds, the scents, the heart.  I’ve no desire for the music to cease, for despite the discomfort, I’m experiencing the world on a more intimate level than I ever had.  And that’s worth some tears, some pain, and a tender heart.

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4 thoughts on “Tender and Exposed

  1. beautifully written Sarah. You have opened yourself to the world/divine and you are receiving it’s blessings. That’s a scary thing. It’s hard to lose that protective shell, but it’s so worth it!

  2. Pingback: The Soul | Finding My Ground

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