With Open Arms

Yesterday was the twenty-ninth day of February; a day that comes only once every four years.  A rare day.  So I expected some magic: a shooting star, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, fairy dust…I don’t know, something.

One thing I remember from being a toddler: whenever I wanted to be picked up and held, all I had to do was reach out my arms.  Babies seem to know this from the moment they are born.  When I was old enough to do the holding, I would lower myself to my baby cousin, reach out my arms, and watch him wobble towards me hurriedly.  I would catch him and lift both of us up, shielding him from the wind while he grounded me and provided me with a sense of purpose.

When I was eighteen, I bought an ice cream cake on the eve of my boyfriend’s birthday to surprise him at midnight.  On the short walk back, I kept telling myself, “don’t trip, don’t trip.”  A few feet away from the entrance of the building, I lost my balance descending the steps into the courtyard.  Rather than reaching out my hands to steady myself and risk tipping over the cake, I let myself fall directly onto my knees.  The cake was unharmed.  Years later, I would perform the same fall while holding my best friend’s nephew.

As I got older, it became harder to reach out my arms.  I got used to wrapping my arms tightly around myself rather than opening them to someone else.  It was just easier that way; there was less uncertainty with that move.  Recently I was told that the ability to show vulnerability is the greatest display of strength.  I try to be susceptible to that idea during those moments of weakness.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

CS Lewis

Sometimes his words taste like drops of honey.  I swallow them before the sweetness settles, forbidding the taste from lingering on my tongue.  So the drops gather inside me instead, welling to new heights each day until they reach my heart.

Today is the first of March after the twenty-ninth of February, all is right with the world again.

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