I have always wondered if I'd have the opportunity to use the word, or phrase 'dear heart'. It seemed out of reach when I read it and I don't believe I ever heard anyone speak it. I wandered about the interwebs looking for the etymology because it seemed to matter and of course, this is a very old word and goes right back to the Middle Ages. The last quoted use of the word that I could find was published in 2005 so it's certainly not dead, just not in use. Why is it we don't speak our hearts?
When you look up the word, the two sources that come to the top most frequently are the 2005 publication of Anita Diamont's, The Last Days of Dogtown (Dogtown!) and the 1684 publication of John Bunyan's, Pilgrim's Progress, Part 2. Despite what is lovely about, "I'm not deserting you, dearheart. I'll be home tomorrow, or the day after.", the underlying set of messages in Part 2 of Pilgrim's Progress is significantly compelling.
I haven't done much more than skim it at this point but from the analysis and reviews (I passed on Sparknotes) I believe he pulls women to the forefront allowing them opportunity to be heroes in their own right and perhaps the lives of others as that's often what happens when we own ourselves.
We don't have to be made of steel to be brave. I realized once between jobs that while a good percentage of men in our country face being the only source of income in a family, they can't be any stronger or better equipped than me to cope. Not necessarily. Right? So why did I feel so helpless sitting on my porch wondering what would happen if I didn't get myself re-employed pretty damn quick?
We don't have to be made of steel to be brave.
There was something else about Bunyan's second publication that stood out for me. Alexander Witherspoon, professor at Yale, wrote in a prefatory essay:
"Part II, which appeared in 1684, is much more than a mere sequel to or repetition of the earlier volume. It clarifies and reinforces and justifies the story of Part I. The beam of Bunyan's spotlight is broadened to include Christian's family and other men, women, and children; the incidents and accidents of everyday life are more numerous, the joys of the pilgrimage tend to outweigh the hardships; and to the faith and hope of Part I is added in abundant measure that greatest of virtues, charity. The two parts of The Pilgrim's Progress in reality constitute a whole, and the whole is, without doubt, the most influential religious book ever written in the English language."
"The incidents and accidents of everyday life are more numerous,"
"...the joys of the pilgrimage tend to outweigh the hardships;"
"...and to the faith and hope of Part I is added in abundant measure that greatest of virtues, charity."
I really had to break that up to see the whole thing but those three parts are what had me pluck the use of the term of endearment from 1684 instead of 2005 even though the 2005 reference relates to the eighteenth or nineteenth century (can't quite tell).
It was John Bunyan who told me exactly who you are.
Who we are is not aways we who we get to be. It is almost certainly never who we always get to be. Life is too busy happening and we are too busy being human for the best parts of us to shine at two hundred watts 24/7 even though we think they should.
Tragedy is when we define ourselves by the percentage of our failures.
We don't have to be made of steel to be brave and we don't have to ring the bell at the top of a pole someone else planted in the ground to meet our objective. ...keeping in mind that a lot of those poles with bells at the top are rigged. Just sayin'.
Dearheart, if I told you who you are to me, would you hear me? Could you hear me through all that noise? If I told you what you've done for me, would you be able to see it? Could you? Would you believe me?
Dearheart, if I told you that through me you make a difference in the world you can't even see, would you understand? Would let it in? Would you accept that you are far greater than you have ever believed?
Dearheart, if I handed you a mountain of evidence supporting the difference you are in my world, in my life, in the lives of my children, and the world around me, would you be able to accept that evidence based out the belief system which roots us to the ground and tells us we don't matter?
Why don't people speak their hearts?
I know the answer to this. People don't speak their hearts because they are afraid they won't be heard. Oh, it is agony not to be heard. It is agony to make yourself vulnerable, to pull back your skin and tell your truth.
We walk around in the world holding back from the one person who needs to hear it most of all. We hold back from ourselves.
I said to Elizabeth a while back, Elizabeth, it's not so much about learning to tell me your secrets and your hurts and fears; it is about learning to tell yourself.
So when I ask why don't people speak their hearts I don't mean to other people. I know the answer to that too. I know that people can't speak their hearts to anyone until they've spoken their hearts to themselves.
I'm just telling you these things because I know them and you matter to me. You wear your heart on your face which is something I heard my boss say, instead of 'on your sleeve'. You show me a great deal. I am grateful for your trust. I am not afraid to tell you how I feel. I have no doubt that you know I love you but I don't think you've ever really grasped the why of it. I could be wrong but I'll say it anyway.
Dearheart is directly translated from the Middle Ages as My Heart and you are that. I have never had a friend for this long. We found each other eleven years ago. Do you remember that? I have friends I've known since I was twelve or thirteen but we have not been close all these years. I have not even managed to stay married for eleven years. I have only managed to maintain a longterm relationship with my children.
There was a time early in the friendship when we trusted each other enough to meet in the middle (ish). You were already carrying me then. You carried me for a long time. You carried me until I could stand up and then you walked behind me until you were sure I wasn't going to fall back down again. There is an angel from Cielo floating about somewhere (she got packed up to keep her safe when we started moving the bedrooms around). You pulled up beside that cabin in Frisco and about broke my heart. You accepted me exactly as I was, as my girls were, even as Ms. L. was. We were so broken.
You crawled into your sleeping bag in that room with those two teenage girls because I couldn't leave Elizabeth alone at that point and I felt so damn bad about it and you just sucked up so much for me. You have to know these things. I knew it then and I know it now.
When I got home I felt safe for the first time since David walked out the door.
When you got to know me better you started to talk to me, maybe you trusted me to just listen, I don't know. You surely knew my politics and you surely knew I had a particular set of beliefs. We had a friend who knew these things too but she was pretty intent on either explaining them away or waiting for me to up and move south or see the light. You just talked to me.
You told me things you knew I didn't believe. You told me things I didn't agree with and you knew I could have argued with you or made you wrong or any number of things and if I managed to follow my intentions, then I just listened to you and if I missed the mark, I am truly sorry. I thought that you deserved to be listened to and just happened to think we all deserve to be listened to but since we are often surrounded by people who are like minded we don't have the opportunity to just listen to something that is real for someone else and shut our mouths in the process.
You know, you can validate without invalidating yourself and it's a crying shame we don't seem to understand that. I understood it theoretically until I met you and then I got it.
You spent a good long time just being with me and you smiled at me a lot and you were very gentle and then you talked and when I listened I heard a whole other world differently than I'd ever heard it. The most important thing I learned is that if we don't learn to listen we will go on as we are. If we don't learn to take the risk and talk we will go on as we are.
I learned a whole new level of risk and compassion from you and taught that to my children who, completely unaware are teaching it by example.
Because I could listen to you talk about God and because you were willing to listen to me talk about god, God, god, and God and play with the expression of what I felt, experienced, couldn't quite wrap my arms around, the depth of own personal spirituality has blossomed in a way which supports who I feel I need to be in the world and my ability to steady the ground under my feet when it is so very hard to listen and pick through all the noise because listening, for me is at the center of it. That is where my god, God, god, or God sits. There was a book by a man named Fynn called Mr. God, This is Anna. When Fynn is sixteen years old he finds four year old Anna on the docks in London in the 1930s and brings her home. Anna stays with his family for four years and in that time she has quite a bit to say. When he loses her he writes about it. My aunt gave me my first copy of this book, probably in an attempt to indoctrinate me when I was maybe twelve and it distinctly backfired if her intention was to pull me into the Catholic church or really any church at all. Anna had relationship with God. Anna did not have a relationship with church best I recall. I learned three things from that book that are still with me.
- When you find someone wandering about on the docks in London looking like they might need a bit of care, just because the world says keep walking, maybe you ought to stop
- People have a point of view. God has viewing points. (that is probably damn close to a direct quote)
- If you love someone, they are in your middle, you are in their middle, nothing can ever change that, not time, not space, not anything. 'Where is Anna? Anna is in my middle' To someone very dear to me once after I'd given her the book: 'Where is Alecto, Laura? Alecto is in my middle.' Ten years later: 'Laura, where is Alecto?' 'Alecto is in my middle.' 'That is absolutely the truth.'
Einstein's belief that we are all part of a greater whole was something that came to me in my early thirties. He believed that the concept of separateness was truly false. If we understood the illusion of this belief I imagine that 1. we'd stop hurting each other (it's suicide, right?) and 2. we'd stand a chance of listening. I say, stand a chance because I notice we have trouble hearing ourselves.
So you listened to me first for a very long time and then I listened to you.
I still believe what I believe and you still believe what you believe and that is how it should be. There are SO MANY viewing points in the universe. I cannot imagine why on earth we would ever think there would or should be one.
You carried me for so long and I don't think you have any idea what you did. And then one day I got to carry you. This is one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I'm truly sorry about your knee and I recognize that finding out about your knee was actually kind of important but you were hurting and that sucked. I'm sorry you didn't get to finish the course the way other people finished the course but I'm pretty sure by now you realize you finished YOUR course.
I still cry when I look at this.
Dearheart, I love you so much it hurts.
Now I'm going to let you figure out why the love letter is from Cielo. Shouldn't be too hard, you were just there.