Today is Valentine’s Day and even those ordinarily stubborn and immoveable hearts long for connection. Connection, in its truest and most meaningful form, demands vulnerability – honest, authentic, weak-kneed, open-hearted vulnerability. It is the integrity of our vulnerability which issues forth the tenderness we wish to claim for ourselves and to enhance our lives. Vulnerability is our collective “raison d’etre” – without it we are nothing.
At risk of sounding too go-hug-a-tree like Aquarian (that I most certainly can be at times) I often wonder what holds people back from ‘putting themselves out there’ because it is in my most vulnerable moments that I know I am truly alive.
I don’t know that I have ever felt the purity of emotion and sentiment, the perfection of human love (however impermanent) so eloquently captured in Frederic William Burton’s painting of the the ill-fated lovers Hellelil and Hildebrand but I agree with the words of George Eliot (British, 1819 – 1880) who wrote of the painting ‘the face of the knight is the face of a man to whom the kiss is a sacrament.’ Who amongst us wouldn’t wish to love in such a powerful manner? In this work of art, as in life, it is the vulnerability depicted which humbles and wrenches the heart.
In contrast with Burton’s watercolour, earlier today The Local Sweden ran a story for Valentine’s Day about a widower named Nils 87 and his lover, friend and wife of 59 and a half years Mimmi – and my heart constricted with both sorrow for the loneliness he expressed and joy for all that he had the pleasure to know as her husband. My girlfriend Doris knows something of this having lost her amazing husband Bob to cancer a couple of years ago after 48 years of marriage – each holiday my heart breaks for her aching loss, something I can’t imagine and will never know, pain I cannot abate for the woman I hold dearest and longest against all those people in my life that I love.
Love stories, the ones that end happily especially, are what give the rest of us hope – to find that elusive connection with one person (while there may well be multiple soul mates, I prefer to believe in the “fairy tale” version of profound love that empowers, encourages, cherishes).
Some time ago I read the (miraculous) effort of A.S. Byatt – Possession. A Booker Prize winner, both intellectual mystery and powerful romantic effort spanning the intricacies of two (primary) relationships, and integrating the fictionalised writings of Christina Rosetti (as the character Christabel LaMotte) and the character of Randolph Henry Ash (generally believed to based upon a combination of the English poets Robert Browning, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson) Ms. Byatt’s effort brought the stunning vulnerability of loving completely to very nearly audible breaths and sheaths of brittle paper held in our hands. I read it twice, stunned both times, wanting the protagonists to cause less pain to each other even as their truths established the means of surviving their immutable hearts.
Rumi, ever wise, oft quoted in love, wrote:
To be, in the words of the last man I kissed, “be full of fire and of tears”. The passion that ignites a fire is kindled with fuel found in tears of vulnerability, transparency, compassion, kindness, tenderness and authenticity and there cannot be a strategic vision for success in such a realm. We give ourselves over to love’s magnificent power – in hope.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you!