Wednesday, 15 January 2014

the heart and the bottle

On the journey towards healing, I’m constantly amazed at how much I learn from my kids.

A few weeks ago as I rocked Thea to sleep in the room she shares with Kayla, I looked across to see Kayla lying on her back, body loosely sprawled across the bed, hands thrown above her head. The ceiling shimmered with stars and moons from her night light and her rag doll Lucy lay upside-down beside her, scrunched between the bed and the wall. I marveled at the way Kayla slept, just like her doll, without a care in the world - trusting that morning would come as always, there’d be food on the table, clothes to wear, and mum and dad would take care of everything. I found myself suddenly deeply envious of that simple trust.

Along those lines, tonight I’m borrowing words and just a few visuals from one of my kids’ favourite books - ‘The Heart and the Bottle’ by Oliver Jeffers. This really is a parable for adults, thinly disguised as a children’s story ...

The Heart and the Bottle

Once there was a girl, much like any other, whose head was filled with all the curiosities of the world.

With thoughts of the stars. With wonder at the sea.

She took delight in finding new things ... until the day she found an empty chair.

Feeling unsure, the girl thought the best thing was to put her heart in a safe place.

Just for the time being.

So, she put it in a bottle and hung it around her neck, and that seemed to fix things ... at first.

Although in truth, nothing was the same. She forgot about the stars and stopped taking notice of the sea.

She was no longer filled with all the curiosities of the world and didn't take much notice of anything ... other than how heavy and awkward the bottle had become.

But at least her heart was safe.

It might never have occurred to the girl what to do had she not met someone smaller and still curious about the world.

There was a time when the girl would have known how to answer her.

But not now. Not without her heart.

And it was right at that moment she decided to get it back out of the bottle.

But she didn't know how. She couldn't remember. And nothing seemed to work. The bottle couldn't be broken. It just bounced and rolled right down to the sea.

But there, it occurred to someone smaller and still curious about the world that she might know a way.

And it just so happened that she did.

The heart was put back where it came from, and the chair wasn't so empty anymore.

But the bottle was!

This story so resonates with me! If you also locked up your heart at some point in your life, what was the key to opening up again? Anyone willing to share their insights? For me it was a long series of encounters with GOOD people who cared about me and gave me the courage to trust again. Faith was also a part of it, because I had to take the first leap and hope God didn't let me fall off a cliff! I'm still learning to open up as I watch my kids grow, explore and discover the world. I'm especially challenged by the way they love without reservation, because they don't yet know how it feels to be hurt by someone they love. Much food for thought there!

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