My ex and I started the process of breaking up seven months ago. This big change was unexpected, and it came on the heels of, or maybe prompted by, a difficult summer with a tragic death in our family. We have both been doing the best we can to just deal with the end of our romantic partnership, and overall I think we have handled it with a lot of maturity, tenderness and grace towards each other.
In some ways, I am a laid back and easy going person. However, I am also a big feeler and intense when it comes to emotion and relationships. My birth sign is Scorpio, ‘nuf said. I have been humbled by the way my truly great friends and family have loved me, including my ex, during this transition.
I had not been open to dating, and really have had no interest in even thinking about it. I have at times felt like a baby duckling, imprinting on a few people who have shown me attention, but I think it’s because I’m not used to being unattached and vulnerable. I recently met someone and really wanted to get to know her more. A mutual friend likes both of us and thought that we might hit it off (and maybe needed me to make a friend so I would stop blowing up her phone and texting her so much). So I was completely surprised that I shifted into being open and interested.
We had done a few casual things together, and I invited her to go hiking with me to Landsford Canal State Park this week. It is a beautiful park in South Carolina about 30 miles south of Charlotte. It has spider lilies, a beautiful water flower, and they bloom their little hearts out mid-May each year. The hike is a gentle one, with intermittent large stone remnants of the old canal along the trail. It is peaceful and has an enchanting quality to it.
I’m disappointed that, unfortunately, my new acquaintance is dealing with some difficult and unpleasant challenges as well. So it does not look as though a deeper friendship is in the cards, at least for now. Adding insult to injury, last week was a particularly hard one for me. For my last post, I wrote about Clarissa (what was I thinking?) and that triggered an acute awareness of the grief of losing my nuclear family as I have known it for a long time. It didn’t help that Pandora played Michael Buble’s “I Wanna Go Home” unexpectedly because I had it on the shuffle setting. Let me create a visual for you: me kneeling by the toilet with gloves on, cleaning it, crying and croaking along with the song, tears and snot flowing all over my face.
Now, I’m not saying my life is in the toilet. Far from it. In fact, that is what this post is about. Faith. Hope. But most of all, love. For about a month or more, the Universe has been sending me hearts. I don’t know how else to explain it. It started out one afternoon. I went to buy a cup of coffee and didn’t have a lot of time. As I hopped back into my car, I glanced up at the tree I was parked next to. I don’t know what kind of tree it was, but the leaves were just starting to unfurl, and they were a deep red. And damn if they did not look like hearts pasted on branches. I quickly snapped a picture with my phone and went back to work with a big smile on my face. I had asked for an oracle earlier that morning and knew that was my message for the day: be open to love.
And then I started seeing hearts everywhere. On a morning walk after a nice rain, the dogwood petals on the street were shaped like faint, dusty pink hearts. The next day, a tiny yellow leaf, the size of a pea, and yes, shaped like a heart, had blown in through the window of my car and jumped out at me against the black leather seat as I opened the door. As I sat on the porch at work to eat my lunch and get a little sun, even a bird dropping had dried white, in the shape of a heart, on the concrete walk.
Like the final crescendo at the end of a 4th of July firework show, this weekend I was bombarded with heart messages on the hike I took alone at Landsford Canal: heart-shaped green leaves on trees and bushes; a yellow heart leaf at my feet on the trail; a cheap, heart-shaped gold charm, left on a bench, complete with a tiny key and fake diamond in it; and a pink Nuk baby pacifier (I had never noticed that a Nuk pacifier is shaped like a heart, but it is).
Just to make sure I got the message, as I drove home, the marquee outside a church had a neon sign flashing “God Loves U” in big, bright red letters.
Joan Osborne has a CD called Righteous Love. The title track, “Righteous Love,” sums up how expansive I feel about L-O-V-E:
And if I sprouted wings
I would not be amazed
'Cause faith is a mystery that rocks me
For days and days and days and days and
I've never been so sure of love
I've never been so sure of love
It’s clear that Joan has a person in mind when she sings this song, but I am taking liberties to experience the message from a universal perspective of the abundance of love that is readily available, regardless of our relationship status. I have had the good fortune to have had a romantic connection for a long time that was true. But that is only one avenue for knowing love. I have never been so sure of Love that is, literally, all around and in us.