I listened to a meditation this morning that asked me to breathe deeply into my heart. As I inhaled, tears instantly formed. And with ragged exhale, I knew why. I could see it. Clear as day.
My broken heart.
I’ve been here before. So many times. The cracks, the fissures, the open, gaping spaces familiar.”Welcome,” they said. “Remember us?”
“Yes,” I whispered. “I know you.” Inhale. Exhale.
And then, something in my heart began to sing; a melody that warmed. Slow at first, building, then blazing into my conscious, aching reality. Pitch-perfect in Leonard Cohen’s Anthem:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
“Yes, I know you.”
The details of my story matter, of course, though I will not tell them here…at least today. They are not unlike many I’ve told before; many more that I’ve had the privilege of hearing. What I saw, heard, and understood this morning, in brilliant, excruciating clarity and with nearly blinding light, is that this is my heart’s story; it’s anthem.
It is because my heart is broken that I have faith. It is because my heart is broken that I cling to hope. It is because my heart is broken that I know love. There is no other way.
As my breath caught in my throat (even this, melodic), as tears rhythmically fell, and as the cracks in my heart poured forth audible light, I heard within – as I have so many times: “This is your story. Speak. Sing.”
When I acknowledge and even more, allow my heart to be broken, the rush of story, support, strength, and song is palpable, audible, beautiful.
Most of us, however, live our lives in an attempt to protect our hearts, to shield them from being broken, to fill in every crack, fissure, and gap with a cacophony of avoidance, dissociation, and/or blame. It’s futile. It’s also isolating, weakening, and deafening in its silence.
Our deepest calling, our life’s work, our anthem, is to allow our heart to be broken, again and again. To see, name, and tenderly acknowledge every crack and fissure. To count and bottle every tear. To breathe in truth and exhale the light that has now seeped in. To sing.
What and how shall we sing?
We tell our truth. Every note. Every lyric. Every chord. Every chorus.
…the stakes are high when it comes to truth-telling…In addition to the fear of disappointing people or pushing them away with our stories, we’re also afraid that if we tell our stories, the weight of a single experience will collapse upon us. (The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown)
Take heart. You will not collapse. You have already had multiple experiences and still you stand. (“Welcome,” they say. “Remember us?”) The light that reverberates and echoes within those gaps is the heartbeat of thousands of stories that encircle, enjoin, and empower. Not just yours. The truth-filled anthems of many – past, present, and future. Let yours join their chorus. Tell your story. Sing your song. Breathe deep into your heart and acknowledge every crack, fissure, and gap. Weep. Smile. And sing. Not alone. Surrounded. Supported. And sung over. With glorious, blazing anthem.
I wish I could tell you all the stories that hover, that hope, that soar and sing – every one for you, longing to be heard, so that you can hear your own in all its beauty, all its strength, all its courage. I wish I could somehow convince or at least encourage you to see and understand your own story as breathtaking and melodic and full of light. I wish I could imbue your broken heart not with a fix or solution; rather, with the awareness of its every crack, fissure, and gap as the very things that enable you to speak and to sing.
Of course, I cannot. Any more than I can instantly bind up my own wounds. What I can do is speak and sing from my own place of truth – full of ache, full of faith, hope, and love, full of desire to invite you to the same.
My heart is broken. There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in. And this my swelling anthem: I will not be stopped. I will not be silent. I will not shut down. I will tell stories. I will love my own. I will stand and sing.
Music to my ears.
Can you hear it?
Mortals, join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began…
Ever singing, march we onward
Victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music lifts us sunward
In the triumph song of life.