Guardian of an open heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Oh yeah. I’ve got this one down, baby. Perhaps not in the way this verse was intended.

So much so that a couple of wise souls who love me, unbeknownst to each other, have gently nudged me in recent conversations.

If you read my blog with any regularity, you know the past five years have been less than a picnic. I know all of you also have your struggles. Perhaps they’re more distributed over the years of your life. I hope so.

And if they are not, then you may feel—as I do—that God has tempered steel by tempering you over the past few years. Deaths, divorce, financial issues, difficult choices.

“Thank you sir. Please, may I have another?” These sarcastic words crossed my lips on more than one occasion.

The truth is, I sorely needed that tempering. To do some housecleaning in my life, which continues. To look at the cast of characters on stage with me and see if they are truly playing a supporting role while starring in their own lives. Or if they are sniping about my role because they refuse to own their own.

To keep a house, a household and the love that fills both. To emotionally support two boys and myself. To learn things I so do not want to learn, from how to extend the life of my garage door to how to better plan for retirement.

Suffice it to say that while I thought I was strong before, I was wrong. Tempered steel is now the order of the day. Consider me molded.

red heartIn recent conversations with people I trust, however, the notion of being open—specifically, having an open heart—has been introduced.

I remember the concept.

In fact, I still apply this concept with my most trusted. My kids get my open heart. And a select few others.

But these friends are talking about an open heart toward romantic love. The kind that stays.


If you have been divorced, go ahead. Quake with me. We’ve done this before, haven’t we? Stood there before all of God’s creation, our crazy aunt, the annoying in-law and our best loved friends, and vowed. To love. To have an open heart. Not to retreat, even when it got hard.

I can’t tell you about my version of hard. Too many people would get hurt. You’ll have to trust me on this one.  I learned that there are a few things on this earth stronger than love for some people. And that those things ruin lives, families, marriages.

My open heart had to close. Call it self-preservation.

It worked. I’m still standing. I went into survivor mode and damn it, we’re all still here.

So now, to tell me to open my heart again. Well, forgive me if I hesitate. Sputter. Walk away.

I pondered my friends’ words. I went where I always go for the best insight and advice. To my inner wisdom.

I did an “open heart” meditation. And what I could not decipher with rational thinking in the “real world” became crystal clear in a metaphor during this meditation.

Those of you who are staunchly in the science and intellect camp, be warned. I think those are great camps. Worthy of us all.

But when dealing with matters of the heart, you need a little mysticism. Not science. Facts play a role in love but they do not account for alchemy or vision.

I needed both.

I was asked to visualize my heart. So I did.

Guess what? My heart is a cathedral.

Score.  I was so relieved not to see a shack or a parking garage.

It’s gorgeous. Light, sublime stained-glass windows, beautiful stonework, solidly and elegantly built. This was the work of a Craftsman.

All elements are represented within it. A reflecting pool stands outside filled with the most gorgeous water lilies you’d ever want to see. A large torch stands on another side of the structure. And a garden filled with the most gorgeous flowers and plants sits outside of yet another wall. Water, fire and earth all stand tall and balance the structure on each side.

The grounds surrounding it are lush, spacious and verdant. This particular cathedral is set in quiet surroundings, away from the hustle and bustle. It is a place that welcomes quiet reflection. Prayer. Love.

And yet.

At this time, it is too quiet. A bit empty. I stood in this structure and wondered why it was not filled with gorgeous, loving souls. It begs for reverent celebration. Such a beautiful, unused space. I could see it had a rich history of celebration and felt it was time again for the same.Hands of the mother and child to pass those heart-shaped

I envisioned a select few at the start. The faces of my best loved came to mind. I could hear the music, see the inviting flames of the torch, envision these souls wading in the lovely pool.

It is time, my love, I said to myself. Time to open up the grounds again.

And the worries came flooding back. What if all is trampled? What if the invited gobble up my offerings and leave early? What if I don’t choose wisely enough when assembling the guests? What if, this time, the damage is unsustainable? I barely survived the reconstruction.

And then, my own wise voice. An unused temple is a travesty. It is akin to the china that gathers dust, the mother who does not show affection, the lush towels left unused in a linen closet when someone dies. Of what use is beauty if it is not experienced?

I will guard my heart. Perhaps the boundaries will be a bit further out on the grounds, to stop the unfit from entering.

But for my welcomed guests– for those who are drawn to the fire, can warm to the water, appreciate the scent wafting from the flora—for these people, my heart will continue to open.

I usually have a distaste for folksy sayings. But there is one, forgotten, from many years ago that I used to appreciate.

Open your heart. Open it wide. Someone is standing outside.

I certainly hope so. And even more so, I hope it is someone who I can welcome unabashedly.

If no one awaits, my cathedral still stands tall and strong, hosting some very wonderful souls.

But adding one more to the gathering only seems right, in the long run.

One can guard an open heart. This is what tempered steel is for . . . and perhaps it is necessary, given my history.

I am the guardian I needed years ago. And I am better equipped now to protect myself while keeping the gates open to the right souls.

Because of that, all will be well in my heart.

Let the gathering begin.


26 Comments Add yours

  1. gorgeous post Kay! On this auspicious New Year’s Day, I wish for you the perfectly timed unfoldment of all that you so eloquently describe.

  2. Boy, does this one resonate…The very first Christmas after my husband walked out, I attended the gorgeous annual service in NYC at the Cathedral of St John the Divine. One of the elements of Paul Winter’s concert there was a bagpiper and I sobbed my heart out; I’d last heard one at my own wedding, barely 3 years earlier. But sitting with me was my best friend and (really) a lovely new beau. He did (yup) break my still-fragile heart, but we still had had a great six months and I saw that being loved and laughing hard were still possible. I didn’t remarry until 3 yrs ago, and that was only after 11 years with my second husband….it is very difficult and frightening to think it could all happen again. It could, but even if it went south (and it likely would not) you are now stronger and smarter. Jose and I are having the worst time of our 14 yrs together right now….but my heart is not broken by it. I’m angry and expressing it and dealing with it…my heart is simply not available for shattering anymore! Like yours, it’s been tempered.

    1. candidkay says:

      Beautifully put–“my heart is simply not available for shattering anymore.” You pegged it.

  3. Roy McCarthy says:

    Strong post. Being older and now unattached I’ve become wholly selfish but, paradoxically, this enables me to give of myself without reservations, but only when it suits me. I think I’m a better person for it.

  4. This is one of your best posts. It really touched me. I too have a guarded heart. I understand those “few things on this earth stronger than love” that hurt as I have been there and do not want to go there again. The silver lining is that I am more open to others and find there is now so much more space for others. By that I mean there is now space for a deeper relationship and connection with my mother, siblings, children, true friends. I don’t want to give that up either.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you. Those words mean a lot. And I’m so glad to hear there is a silver lining for you. The hollowing out of space in your heart and then filling with more joyous things is a beautiful image.

  5. Marie says:

    My mother dabbles in stained glass and I keep envisioning cathedral windows, fortified and melded into something stronger for the brokenness of so many beautiful pieces. Gorgeous imagery, Kay.

    1. candidkay says:

      And you’ve now given me a wonderful image to hold in my mind, building upon what I envisioned. Thank you . . .

  6. KM Huber says:

    Good for you, Kay, for opening up your cathedral. Who knows what new light will reveal? It is a hard thing to do. Although our circumstances are completely different, I, too, have been hesitant to open my heart. Only recently have I opened its doors. It’s only a beginning but already, the openness is providing a broader perspective and a lighter step. Best to you in this, Kay.

  7. drranjani says:

    My first step towards finding love was with meditation as well. I wish you love and light as you find the one who will walk with you. You are on the right path.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I’d love to hear more about this. Times like these are when I wish my “virtual” friends and supporters were less virtual. We could have discussed over tea . . .

      1. drranjani says:

        I would love to chat with you over a cup of tea…

  8. Beautiful – what a wonderful heart you have!

  9. Kate says:

    Thanks Krissy for the reminder – even those of us who have not been trampled need to keep in mind the fragileness of another. To choose our words and our actions lovingly, carefully and wisely to bolster the spirit of another! Your words are SO descriptive I can see the castle — Well guarded but opening and beautiful! ROCK it sister! Find another love but still preserving who you are….. very special!

  10. Thank you! Perfect timing of your post……..I am struggling with letting anyone get close again…….
    Your post helped me …….I think I will go find my own “open heart meditation”

    1. candidkay says:

      Let me know how it goes:). Sometimes we just need to put that rational mind aside and dive deep . . .

  11. I Love this open heart meditation, it is a perfect way to reconnect and feel what is happening within us and allow us to see that there is always something to let go of, so we can make space to receive what we need. Great post, thanks for sharing so openly.

  12. Cindy Tartz Dadik says:

    Take your time, Krisse. You are such a wonderful, educated, strong person. Such a solid soul. When you are ready and it’s right, you’ll know it and it’ll be so worth it.

  13. markbialczak says:

    You should be hopeful, Kay. There will be a kindred out there who will cherish your heart and offer his in the same manner. I found mine after a similar process in my life, and I gaze at her lovingly on the couch in our living room as I type this now.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I love that Mark. A dream made flesh, right? And so glad you found each other . . .

      1. markbialczak says:

        Yes, well put, Kay. Indeed. Your turn. And, thank you …

  14. This is so beautiful. I really identified with:

    “Open your heart. Open it wide. Someone is standing outside.

    I certainly hope so. And even more so, I hope it is someone who I can welcome unabashedly.”

    I am a fellow hopeful one.

    1. candidkay says:

      Let’s just keep on hoping together, Gabriela. I like having kindred spirits out there . . .

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