Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Human Heart

I lead our church book club. This was a reluctant “ministry” for me. Our Women’s Ministry Director recruited me for over a year before I finally relented—basically because I had read little “good” Christian fiction (besides the classics of course). I had a real “attitude” about this particular genre. I wish I could say I have changed my mind.

One thing I do NOT do is pre-read the books I select. I want to read the books along with the rest of the group and be fresh to discuss each one. I rely on book reviews at different sites and then compile a list for the club to read over the year. What amazes me is that no matter how poorly the book is written, it still stimulates great conversation, which-I think-is the entire point of a book club.

This month we are reading a book entitled “When Crickets Cry” by Charles Martin. From the start, I must say that this is one of my most favorite books that we have read. What I realized early on, and was again emphasized in this particular book, is that loss; whether it is of a spouse or a child or a father or a mother, is fodder for fiction. This book follows the pattern.

The protagonist is a widower and a doctor who is attempting to come to grips with his life following the death of his wife. Of course he leaves the practice of medicine because he can’t “save her” and enters an entirely different life crafting boats. Well into the story he begins to have a relationship with another woman who is the caregiver for her niece – who happens to have a similar heart problem as his departed wife. The new “girl” seems to “get it” and here is the conversation that she has with her niece one evening:

“Do you think he likes you?”

This time Cindy responded, “Honey, I’m not sure. Grown-ups sometimes have a lot going on inside their hearts and…I think Reese has a hurt heart.”

“Like mine?” Annie asked.

“No,” Cindy answered, “not like yours. More like he gave it away a long time ago, and when his wife died she took it with her.”

“Oh,” Annie whispered. “Can he get it back?”

“I don’t know,” Cindy said. “I don’t know if he wants to. Sometimes the memory of love is so strong that it edges out most everything else.”

Wow—I had to set the book down for a while. This is insightful. I have read over and over on the widow board how folks want to find love again, but do they really WANT to? Is the memory of love too strong? I never thought of life on these terms because my experience has been much different.

I, on the other hand, maintain a different attitude. I believe IF you have had a great love, than you long for, even are destined to, have another. The greatest memorial I can give Don is to love again—not to find someone to “distract me from the pain”, but to truly search out and find one to share my life with. I was fortunate to have found such a person.

Having said that, I also understand how difficult it is to be open to new love—to put yourself out there when rejection can wound an already fragile self-esteem. I understand how, at times, it feels as if you are “cheating” on the one who has departed, but I go back to the fact that if the tables were turned (and fortunately Don and I discussed this), I would want him to love again.

The human heart is more complex than we will ever be able to understand.

“Who could refrain that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make love known?” William Shakespeare

OHH—if it were that easy…
This I know for sure.

12 comments:

TigereyeSal said...

On a blog I read, maybe Annie's, a point was made about how the head can't fathom how it is possible to love two people, absolutely, simultaneously, but the heart knows. The heart expands magically, like it does on the birth of the second child. The heart has a wisdom and a strength and a courage, and if we allow ourselves to hear the wisdom of our heart, we may be blessed in love again (and again).

Hugs,

Sally

anniegirl1138 said...

Yeah, what Sally said (beautifully).

Rob said...

Wow—I had to set the book down for a while. This is insightful. I have read over and over on the widow board how folks want to find love again, but do they really WANT to? Is the memory of love too strong? I never thought of life on these terms because my experience has been much different.

I, on the other hand, maintain a different attitude. I believe IF you have had a great love, than you long for, even are destined to, have another. The greatest memorial I can give Don is to love again—not to find someone to “distract me from the pain”, but to truly search out and find one to share my life with. I was fortunate to have found such a person.


I, too, believe in the latter. I really did know very early on (and verbalized such to my friend/neighbour) that I did not want to go on alone, that there would be someone new at some point. And I did have a great love first time 'round. I didn't know how a new love could happen or even gave much thought to how I was going to go about finding that new person. But I knew it was what I wanted, I wanted it, and then it really happened.

As for the former - and I'll probably get flamed for this - I think most of the folks that do have trouble (i.e. those that say they want to have another relationship, but can't seem to find someone) probably weren't very good at relationships to begin with. That's a bit of a sweeping generalization, but it's based on my observation that there is a small minority of folks who have remained there (yeah, I still look there from time to time) while a huge majority have gone on to other things (or so it would seem since they're not actively posting anymore) and that probably includes new love.

Ali said...

Not everyone who remains a single widow/er remains that way because they can't let go of the memory of love. There's also the reality of statistics - at least in my part of the world, single women outnumber single men quite significantly. Add Christianity as a partner requirement and, well, if love finds me again it will be against the stats!!

Ali

TGLB said...

I believe that love expands; that is it's nature. It is not a finite emotion. Love is infinite for the loving heart. It doesn't surprise me that people can love more than one person with all their heart; parents do it all the time, but somehow it seems impossible when it comes to romantic love. Until your life proves to you that it is not.

Marsha said...

Ali,
You bring up a really good point. I was talking to a single man at church this morning. He is VERY attractive yet finds it very difficult to find single women of whom he is interested in dating---and he is a MAN!!!! It is even more difficult for women.
Marsha

anniegirl1138 said...

Hmmmm, back when I was single (and I was forever in comparison to the time spent married - both times) I would complain about the lack of single guys worth dating. The truth was rather different though. There were men to date and many of them nice guys and the problem was me. I just really wasn't all that into it. And by it, I mean relationships. I just wasn't up to the task of really being in a relationship and in my opinion, many people who say they are looking and can't find what they are looking for are willfully over-looking perfectly wonderful people because they are just not into the idea of a relationship at whatever point in their life they are at.

Nice men and women are everywhere and if you are really ready and open, they show up. I heard that until I wanted to puke once upon a time but it is true.

Anonymous said...

Hey Marsha - You just always hit the nail on the head - Just so you know I share your blog and insights with others - love everything you write - since we have the same experience and are walking the same path - yes starting to go thru the loving 2 people completely all at the same time - don't worry I haven't forgotten about you and Kent - I am just a slow widow - you understand!!

Marsha said...

Dang,
This is why I HATE anonymous ANYTHING--I am sitting here thinking--who wrote that last post-----yep----don't know--but I agree.
Marsha

Tanja said...

Annie and Rob,

I guess I'm one of the people you refer to, when it comes to complaining not having found a new love.
And yes, your comments do hurt me.

I had a wonderful, loving marriage with my husband for twenty years. I was 19 when we got together and 39 when he died. We were blessed with three wonderful daughters, that I now raise alone, and I promised him to make that my first priority, which I do.

Yes, it's true, there are plenty of nice men out there. I'm not blind to that. But just being nice is not enough, that does not make me fall in love with someone.
I need a deeper connection. And it is not easy to find people you have a deeper connection with.
How many friends do people have usually that they can really share everything with? Friends from when they are little?

I do, and they always keep in touch with me. I do not have trouble in making friends, in keeping old ones. But to find one who is special, that I can spend the rest of my life with, that is something different.

Tanja

anniegirl1138 said...

Tanja, I am sorry you read my comments personally. I thought we were just have a discussion in general and was replying to Marsha's comment about her friend. I still think, from all my single years and the fact that many of my friends were single until their thirties or forties that the problem comes back to expectations and not number of single people out there. We expect magic and that is not really what it is. We also expect it to not be work - getting to know someone, fitting to each other, understanding that it won't be perfect -'cause there is no such thing.

Anyway, I am sorry for the pain I caused you. It wasn't my intention.

Rob said...

Tanja,

The last thing I would want to do is the equivalent of going into someone else's living and starting a fistfight.

My comments about the board were not directed at any one person in particular, but as I have some residual hostility toward those there who made it impossible to continue as a member of that community, well, it tends to come out once in a while. I suppose I should exercise more self-restraint.

If my comments inadvertently caused you pain, then I'm sorry for that. Such was not my intent.

I wish you well.
Rob