So much held in a heart

We went to see Hope Springs last night -- not necessarily an easy movie to watch, even from the perspective of a healthy marriage -- and it left us with a curious mix of joy and appreciation for what we have and a sort of general ache for the human condition.

... which I found beautifully expressed in this passage I read this morning, from a piece by Brian Doyle, entitled "Joyas Voladoras," originally printed in American Scholar and which I found in Philip Zaleski's 2005 compilation of The Best American Spiritual Writing.

"So much held in a heart in a life.  So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment.  We are utterly open with no one, in the end -- not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend.  We open windows to each, but we live alone in the house of the heart.

Perhaps we must.  Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart.  When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall.  

You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman's second glance, a child's apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words 'I have something to tell you,' a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother's papery ancient hand in the thicket of your hair, the memory of your father's voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.


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