Nothing more whole

Right in the middle of your most profound difficulties, maybe the difficulties you’ve spent your whole life trying to avoid, there can be the birth of something new.

Perhaps an illness, a loss, or a disappointment leads to a new kind of strength, intelligence, compassion, or kindness. Perhaps it leads to gratitude for your human faculties and for your relationships with people around you. And perhaps a deeper understanding of human suffering, and of the nature of life itself, that had previously been denied to you.

Your attempts to turn away from difficulty, to pretend that all is just fine, can rarely come to much.

They arise from your fear that your heart will be shattered, that there will be nothing of you left. But hardening your heart to keep you safe leaves you rigid and frozen, disconnected from what can support you most.

Your attempts to stop difficulty getting to you also stop life from getting to you. And life will always, somehow, find its way through.

And so this is the logic behind the words of Menachem Mendel of Kotzk:

“Nothing is more whole than a broken heart.”

Things are not always what they seem. Sometimes your attempts to hold harm at bay themselves cause you great harm.

While you hold the world away, you can live only tentatively in the shadows of your own life.

And eventually, perhaps, you turn towards it all in welcome or in acceptance, allowing yourself to feel so much that your heart can break open and life come flooding in.

And you discover at last that difficulty and heart-brokenness are guests, uninvited and unwanted, who turn out to be the greatest teachers.

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