Today I sat on a bus whose seats were decorated with blue and yellow swirls. It’s almost as if they opened up Paint, picked a few colours and made a pattern to copy and paste. Not that there’s anything wrong with Paint, really. I’m sure many an artist got their start sitting in front of the old MS Doc computers, clicking away at a grey mouse, discovering what colours could pop up on the screen.
Anyways on that seat I sat, hopeful I’d get to stretch out across the empty seat beside me. No such luck. At the first stop, a man with a beard and an iPhone leaned down and asked, “Is this seat taken?”
We sat in silence for awhile and in between Anne Lamott’s words, I admired his beard and listened to his breaths. Deep, long breathing.
I realize as I write this it’s not as poetic as I imagined, to explain how on a bus to Toronto I listened to a stranger breathe. But there was something about his breaths, the lungs filling with air, that awakened the longing to have someone next to me, breathing. To listen to their heartbeat inside their chest.
Viola reminds me, when I miss his arms and I miss his heartbeat, that “every man has a chest. Every man has arms.”
But how do I know if I just miss the heartbeat or if I miss the person?
It might seem a silly question. But sometimes it’s easy to miss the good and not the whole. And really, do you really miss a person if you don’t miss all of them? Can you? Can you really love a person unless you love the parts of them that make you come alive, and the parts that make you want to run away?
Learn to love a person not just for their heartbeat but because of who they are. People aren’t things you tuck under your arm when you need them and place back on the shelf when you don’t. If there’s one thing I can tell you, as you stretch into your skin and fall in love and get your heartbroken; love a person for all of them, even if it hurts. Love is supposed to hurt. Because growing hurts, giving hurts, living hurts. But it leaves us more mouldable, shapeable into who God wants us to be.
It’s easy to love the heartbeat. It’s a lot harder – costly – to love the soul.
And it does cost us. You’ll probably spend a lifetime reminding yourself, it’s easy to step away. It’s easy to shut down. But it’s far better if you lean in, get your hands dirty, and fall down.
After all, the brave ones are the ones who get in the arena, fall, and get back up again.