I am convinced that love is the only thing we get to take with us when we cross over. That light everyone speaks of? I’m convinced it’s LOVE, welcoming us into the fullness of what we are, what we’ve always been.
And this earth? This body? This temporal experience of humanity? It’s our soul’s attempt to play, to create, to take up our space in the image of the Great Creator, creating at will. Sometimes we create things unconsciously and say “How could I possibly have created THIS?” (Or, in the words of one of my all time favorite quotes, “What fresh hell is this?” ~Dorothy Parker. I feel like this is tattooed on my forehead.) But at other times, we create moments that connect us to that light, and those moments we call LOVE.
I was 40 when I had a tiny, huge moment of pure transcendent love, and it came in a completely unsuspected package. Here’s the first chapter of that tale (it’s the introduction to my book-in-progress Lost and Found: a Mouse’s Tale):
I know it’s early in our relationship, but let’s just get this out of the way: I’m a wonder junkie. My head is full of Xanadu and my soul is full of Oz. I tell people I moved to Taos because, after a forty-day, forty-night hermitage in the high desert, the bohemian town decided to keep me. But really? It’s because I get to live in a fairy tale village, with its own hot air balloon festival, annual storytelling conference and a 4th of July parade with goats. Goats! New Mexico even stamps the state’s slogan, “Land of Enchantment”, on its license plates. So it’s official. I get to tell everyone I dwell in a state of enchantment. I live for this shit.
Despite the fact that my eyes look in two separate directions (a condition officially known as exotropia), or perhaps because of it, I am constantly searching for the Unseen, amid the fabric of the Seen. My eyes are wandering gypsies, and have gifted me with an ability to see around the edges of things, with a considerable capacity for spotting the extraordinary tucked inside the ordinary. I’m the one outside in the rain, peering into brooding skies for clouds shaped like ninja rabbits. That’s me, crouched over a sidewalk, watching ants build tiny kingdoms as they traverse miles of parking lot carrying tribute in the form of dandelion seeds and spider carcasses.
And while on the outside I may bear a striking resemblance to Rain Man, on the inside I am a fairy tale, all dumbstruck awe and wanderlust. There’s so much to be seen. My eyes are trained to take in most of what’s visible, and much that’s not.
Still, I never saw this coming.
I’m driving down the sagebrush-lined dirt road that leads to our little adobe when my heart explodes. One minute it’s only a heart, a solid piece of machinery in my chest that runs on automatic pilot. The next minute it’s a kaleidoscope—ruby red lullabies, jade-embroidered fables, diamond-shaped grins, and a gentle, rolling ocean of aquamarine goodness, sweeping me out to sea.
I had not dropped acid or dipped into the peyote teepee. I merely felt the tiniest brush of mouse whiskers against the skin that covers my heart.
I turn to Silas, who rides beside me as I steer our 4Runner into the driveway and say, “I don’t know if this little guy is gonna live. But I do know one thing. I will always have a mouse next to my heart. I never want this feeling to leave.” He smiles at me with deep brown eyes capable of drinking in all the crazy that I am. I put my hand to my chest to feel the thirteen-day-old lump of grey fur and whiskers sleeping next to my heart. He’s no more than half the size of my thumb, yet I can feel his wee ribcage moving in and out, and a flutter of pink feet as he dreams his mouse dreams.
In our driveway I switch off the ignition and lean towards Silas, pulling at the edge of my blue-striped sports bra just enough so the lump becomes visible. He’s on his back, four paws and tail in the air, sound asleep. We both gaze down at the thimble-sized being who now considers my bra his personal hammock. “You know that scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?” I ask, my eyes never leaving that whisper of a nose smaller than a pinhead. “The one where The Grinch hears the Whos of Whoville singing instead of crying on Christmas morning? The Grinch’s heart grew three times that day, remember?”Silas smiles. Of course he remembers. I insisted we watch the film on our first Christmas together and pretty much every Christmas since.
“That’s how I feel. It’s unbelievable. This feeling. It’s like…”
My words, brittle and inadequate, tumble from their nest like so many baby birds, broken before wings can take flight. I remember reading a quote years ago on a subway train: “Some things are too beautiful to be borne, unless one is eternal.” Given that I’m a mortal, and wordless at that, there is nothing to do but let my heart burst wide open.
And that’s exactly what it does. So filled with love, it breaks and blooms into a thousand pieces, each piece becoming a new heart, expanding to contain a portion of delight, woven with sweetness and fringed with belonging. Simple belonging, like hot soup on a cold night, story time with cookies and milk, the cool side of the pillow, homecoming.
Watching him breathe, his two grain-of-salt teeth barely visible under a pink rubbery mouth that doesn’t quite close, I recall the lines of a poet: “At one glance I love you with a thousand hearts.”
And in an instant, I know what the poet meant. I now have a thousand hearts, and each one belongs to a mouse.
So this is how it happened for me, at least one of the moments in my life where my heart broke OPEN. A lot of us focus on when our hearts broke down, or broke apart, but we’ve all experienced moments when LOVE moved through us so profoundly, that it felt as if it were growing inside our chests, a living animal, a fractal jewel exploding into light prisms.
And this is what I want to hear from you. When have you experienced the LOVE of a thousand hearts? Not when love was showered on you, but when you felt it moving through you, like a force. Was it a freight train bullet of power? Or a sigh that would hush the night crickets for a hundred years?
Was it the birth of a child? A moment of quiet surrender? A grandparent you adored? An unexpected encounter with nature? A romance? A film or piece of music or a work of art that left you spilling wonder?
Describe a moment when you felt the love of a thousand hearts pouring through you.