This is most likely not the case with you, but personally I feel like a cracked pot. It was appropriate when my daughter, then five, looked at me once and asked: “Mom, why do you have so many cracks in your face?” It wasn’t the most flattering thing anybody has said to me, and I spent a bit more time in front of the mirror that night. Looking at the cracks.
I should have said something wise, like: the cracks in my face are there to show you and the world that I have lived. And anything that is being used will show signs of wear and tear.
The cracks I am talking about today, though, are not the kind of wrinkles botox can fix. I am talking about cracks like in broken.
It baffles me that after all these years I don’t know better. The voice in my head keeps moving me forward on a never-ending chase for a place to rest. I don’t think I know that it is rest I desire. I think that all I understand is that I long for something that I don’t have. So I fill the space with stuff. I mean stuff that will dull the voice in my head, like a new shirt or a canister with a cool lid. For the shortest bit of time I can feel something tingle inside my heart. Happiness. Then it goes away, and the shirt is just a shirt, and the canister collects dust.
I fill it with activities that leaves no space for silence, such as organising pillow cases or stacking wood. And I daresay: email, meetings and a social life that can be bragged about on social media. Anything to keep it noisy. Because in the silence the voice whispers: There is more.
I try to be pretty and nice so people will love me more. Or I try to be loud and shocking so that people will notice me. And when they do, I find that the voice is still in my head saying: There is more.
Looking around me, I find that I am not alone. There are many of us running around, trying to dull the voice. And the more we run, the more we try to fill the empty space, the more we crack.
I was thinking about this today as I was practicing my favourite yoga move, the Corpse. Why is it that no matter how long I live, how many mistakes I make, how many lessons I learn, how many people I hurt, how many people hurt me, I still do the same stupid, stupid mistakes? Why is it that no matter how many of my needs are met, I still wish for more? When will I be content, I wondered. And I moved into Downward dog.
“The voice comes from your soul,” says John O’Donohue. “It is the voice of the eternal longing within you and it confirms you as a relentless pilgrim on the earth. There is something within you that no-one or nothing else in the world is able to meet or satisfy.” He also suggested: “Longing can never be fulfilled here on earth.” Well, that kind of sucks. It almost made me want to go back to the Corpse position, if you know what I mean.
I didn’t want to agree with Mr. O’Donohue. What does he mean longing can never be fulfilled here on earth? I can’t tell because I haven’t finished the book. But it dawned on me that he may have meant that our longing will never be fulfilled, because if it is, we will stop moving forward. If we aren’t looking and longing, we grow lazy, dull and boring. Perhaps that is what he meant. The longing is not the problem. The problem is when we try to stop the longing by filling our lives with noise and clutter so we don’t have to hear the whisper. The whisper that is telling us to keep moving.
The One who dreamed the Universe loved circles, concludes O’Donohue then. I had never thought of that. Circles? God loves circles? But, I think he does. The world is full of circles. I am not entirely sure how to tie the theory of circles to the theory of our constant longing. Except to say that we are good at moving in circles. We move from prayer, love, creativity and joy to hurt and fear and then back to prayer, love creativity and joy.
A broken pot. Perhaps I am. But in a strange way there is comfort in that as well. I am not the only broken pot. We are all broken. And our brokenness is what connects us. It is a misconception that I am the only one with cracks in me, and the rest of the world is whole. Lennart Cohen may have been in his Corpse pose as well, when he wrote this:
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.