Have you ever heard of the song, “Shut de door, keep out de devil?” This song’s title so often encapsulates what it feels like to be around people anymore.
If we look at humanity from a bird's-eye view, we are one giant split heart. We are not just shutting the door to the devil, but to each other. We’re sick, and what we need is a genuine connection with one another, and with ourselves.
We are severing from each other as we sever our heads from our hearts. Politics, religion, sensations of scarcity, and financial systems crumbling under obscene power, act as the swords to our throats.
I get it—I flinch around people anymore, afraid of being hurt. My fearful self wants to deadbolt the door shut.
Yet we aren’t built to shut the door to each other. It makes us sick. How could it not? Doors separate us, and, after time, we grow fragile. But there is an important distinction between being alone and isolating oneself out of fear. The former can contain connection, the latter grows weak without connection.
When we sever ourselves from one other out of fear, we sever from a wealth of beautiful opportunities to embrace our inheritance of compassion, and a rich life is one lived in compassion. In Tibetan Buddhism, compassion is considered a masculine principle and wisdom a feminine principle. In this way, compassion is viewed as active and not just as something we feel. To put it simply, compassion is wisdom and loving-kindness in action.
In uncertain times, it would be the wise and noble thing to do to courageously open the door and invite others into our inner world.
Scary? Hell yes.
Exhausting? Yes…well at first.
Will we get hurt again? Probably sometimes.
Choosing to live shut off may feel safer in the short term, but long term our suffering magnifies. Sharing and connecting is the human experience. And isolation is a thief, robbing the world of our gifts we have to offer, as well as robbing us of receiving from others.
My dad has the sweetest definition of marriage. He says, “Marriage is sharing the sunset together.” Simple. This need not be applied just to marriage. It can be applied to any meaningful relationship. Yet, how many of us aren’t looking at the sunset together? How many times do we refuse to share the bounty of life? When I bake a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, my joy for the bread triples when I see my husband go back for more and more slices. Isn’t that expansion of joy true of anything we have, whether it’s a gift we share or a dinner we create?
In America, the country was united for a brief time during the beginning of COVID. People’s hearts were connected. Then the severing began. The mighty hands of politics, fear, and belief shoved people. We put on team jerseys for whatever team we convinced ourselves was the right one. How miserable we grew, even if what we stood for was true, for it all resulted in thousands of unshared sunsets.
Share sunsets, and be like water
Imagine a healthy ocean and its horizon touching a magnificent sunset and sharing that awe with a loved one.
Yet how do we do that when all we want to do is slam the door hard shut? How do we share sunsets when we are scared? My answer is to mirror water. Healthy waters require boundaries and an open softness. Healthy waters nourish the earth and are the veins that course through all life. Being nourished water as a human is in the discovery of boundaries born out of realized compassion for self and others while recovering the sweet gentleness we are born with that may be sheltering because of past trauma.
Softening is a crumbling of our fears over and over again until what’s left is a heart full of compassion, so much so that whatever fears may linger, they are mere shadows.
At that point, hurts we experience are bubbles on the ocean of our souls.
Our hearts are the portals to compassion. Connecting to our hearts over and over again is how we soften. Do this enough and your presence to yourself and others is naturally soft, kind, warm, and strong. In essence, we become like water, soft and powerful, able to sculpt a canyon.
When we experience pain, our tendency is to retract, to shrink, to protect. Retraction is important, but only for short periods of time to give honor to whatever hurt us. After listening to the message of hurt, we heal by connecting to our hearts, those portals to our innate compassion. If we continue to practice this, we may see that we emerge stronger and with a deeper strength of loving-kindness and a wiser understanding of healthy boundaries.
Shut de door is rooted in the idea of the devil snatching your soul in the night. If we give ourselves permission to derive a meaning that wasn’t intended, we can view the song as maintaining healthy boundaries (keeping the devil out) while keeping our light of compassion lit (the light of Jesus).
I open my door
What if I had kept my door shut? For starters, I would never have connected with any of you. That thought is a sad one, as this newsletter has privileged me to connect, learn and gain wisdom from some of the most wonderful and insightful readers and writers around. What a gift you all have given. Because of such, we can carry forth a brighter and bigger torch of healing compassion to more people longing for their inheritance of connection.
There are many suffering souls experiencing disconnection. Like me, they, too, long for the power of real, non-sugary-sweet and non-overly-sentimental medicine of compassion. There is something magical in us that recognizes the medicine even if we are unsure of how to take it. We sense compassion really can ignite true healing, and we hold it in the palm of our hand.
Let’s continue to help each other learn how and when to prop our doors open, even if only a sliver, while recovering our softness that has sheltered under our fears for possibly a little too long.
If inspired to do so, it would mean a lot and help support this vision of expanding our loving-kindness and not retracting away from our inborn wealth of joy and peace by sharing this publication.
Thank you, dear readers, for being here.