The Connection Between Your Heart and Mine
It’s been said that being a parent is like having a piece of one’s heart walking around outside of one’s chest. Being a parent means being vulnerable to everything that can go wrong in the world. It means (or should mean) being intimately attuned to someone else’s physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being; feeling their sorrows and their joys.
However, this is not only true of being a parent. It’s the complicated blessing of being a person who loves any other person deeply. When someone is beloved to me, and I to them, our hearts become permeable. I open myself to feeling some of what my beloveds feel. I yearn for my beloveds to be blessed with joy, and I accept that when they feel grief my own heart will ache along with theirs.
Sometimes my love threatens to overflow my chest, and I think: I’m just one. If we could put together the love of all humanity, we could move mountains.
In this place and time, the language of love and beloved is presumed to be romantic, having to do with two people “falling in love.” But I think that if that’s all the word “beloved” means to us, then we’re shrinking the capacity of our language. A sibling can be beloved. A friend can be beloved. We don’t just “fall” in love; if we’re blessed to have relationships which deepen over time, we grow in love.
Every intimate relationship comes with the price tag of having a piece of one’s heart walking around outside of one’s chest, vulnerable to harm. If I give a piece of my heart to everyone who is beloved to me, then my heart is always expanding. A little piece of me travels with each of my beloveds wherever they go. An invisible thread connects my heart to theirs, always. They are never alone. Neither am I.
I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to seek to live with an open heart, even when that also means that my heart is vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – not only my own, but also the fortunes of those I love. How can I live that truth with integrity? How can I express my love in a way which will help to sustain my beloveds, and how can I receive their caring in return?
Jewish liturgy teaches that we are loved by an unending love – a love transcending all space and time. A forever love. An infinite love. Sometimes I catch glimmers of how the love I feel for my beloveds is an infinitesimal fragment of that love. Sometimes my love threatens to overflow my chest, and I think: I’m just one. If we could put together the love of all humanity, we could move mountains.
To borrow a term from Thich Nhat Hanh, when we love each other, we inter-are. I become a part of you, and you become a part of me. This is one of the places where I experience divinity: in the connection between your heart and mine.
A version of this article was originally published on the author’s blog, The Velveteen Rabbi.
July 16, 2021