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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

You must share your secret heart in special relationships





It seems to me we are in age of what we might end up calling, as these things go, the Age of Sharing. It’s easy to imagine university courses on the subject, perhaps a history class, or some sort of cultural class, taught by a professor, most likely with gray hair swept up into a bun, or a shiny bald palette polished to perfection.


The lesson plan would go something like sharing in Neanderthal times, as it usually works best to begin very early, and gradually work forward to the Advent of Facebook or some such title, thereby providing a comprehensive look at sharing, and also a full semester of lectures, which must be a prerequisite to teaching generally.


Of course, the way universities are going, this would be an unpopular subject in serious circles. Still with good organization and florid prose description, it might ‘fit the bill’ of students looking to fill out a course load with an easier subject than say Applied Physics: Black Holes and Why They Matter.


“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
― Mother Teresa

I read good Mother Teresa struggled with her faith in later years, later years being when such struggles really gain a bite. It’s easy enough when young to imagine immortality and angels and demons and all that, but as one grows older a certain weariness creeps in which no amount of Hail Marys will suffice to drive away.


The shadows seem more real somehow as the years advance, and someone like Teresa, who shared so much of herself, driven herself to almost obsessive sharing, might be excused for waking up the middle of night and thinking what am I doing? Why am I driven to sharing? For who? For what reward?


But actually the opposite happened in terms of her sharing. She shared more, but just not for God, more for the humans who came to her and seemed to need her sharing touch.


I love the quote ‘we belong each other.’ That sums it up, don’t you think? Don’t you just wish in a broken field of shattered bones and missile fragments, we’d look at each other and realize underneath it all we are all the same?


Two soldiers in a bloody field.


How did we get here? Why are you an enemy? Why am I trying kill you? Why are you trying to kill me?


These are good questions to ask. Leaders would likely shoot you for asking these questions. They are they kind of questions that rot the sacred chain of command, the essence of the chain of command being kill each other without question.


“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”
― Jack London

We’ve lost the sense of things Jack London put into words with his deft touch. Charity. It was a big deal when I was a kid. I was taught at school by vans of nuns who called themselves the Sisters of Charity. Oh my, I was fascinated by these sisters, and not always in a holy way. They were young, they were vital, and they were kind.


Some of them.


Some of them were frustrated and took it out on students, but mostly they were smoothed skin, and Ivory soap and blue-eyed, wrapped in acres of black cotton and starched caps. They had long thick rosary beads that dangled when they walked, beads that announced, “We Are Serious About Prayer.” And indeed they were. To this day I can hear their synchronized voices working their way along the beads, calling light into a dark day is the way I always saw it. Except my childhood was filled with bright days.


I was lucky, I know, but my days had enough childhood sunshine to make the rapid chants of the nuns seem a little besides the point, except their mantra of charity. That struck home. It infused me with a lifelong desire work in soup kitchens. I was taught to share. But a sort of sloppy unfocused sharing, like a pot of watery soup carelessly made.


To a hungry person there is no such thing as careless soup, but to me it was Sunday and then back at it, living life with sin as a feature. Someone once said to me they enjoyed having sex with Catholic boys, because there was always this envelope of guilt and guilt made good sex.


I can see that. I really can.


“It ain't no fun if the homies can't have none. ”
― Snoop Dogg

How did Snoop become the Aristotle of our age? He certainly appears to have gained some sort of status. It sits well with him. And he has a way of putting things that not only strike to the heart of the matter, but make us dance, something Aristotle was not know for doing.


And as we dance, we look to our dance partner and connect. And what is connecting if not sharing?


I once drove across the Karoo with a friend. You don’t know her, but she’s placed in my mind as a special sort of human. She had a way about her. She invited you in. She liked to talk and driving across a landscape like the Karoo, a long flat place, where a curve in the road is a major event, invited deep and far-ranging conversation. I’ve never been good around small talk, but big talk gets my blood-pumping and this drive was fueled with big talk.


I was looking out the window at a herd of wildebeest and wondering how they had gotten to this place and where were they going, when she said, “You must share your secret heart in a special relationship.”


She said sharing was the measure of a relationship. “If you are in a special relationship it’s important to share how you feel about the person.” She was quick to say she wasn’t just talking a relationship with a lover. Any relationship where you are bound to another person. Like soldiers in a trench. Or scientists working on a complex project. The only way to meaningful results in a relationship and is to tell the person the feelings you are having about them.


I was too young when we were having this conversation and to me sharing feelings meant I love you sort of stuff, but she meant something much more encompassing, like sharing you respect the work of another, or sharing you like having lunch together, or you like the way they take notes in a meeting, or whatever. It is an obligation and a foundation of a special relationship.


If you hold back from sharing, like sharing your life story with an attendant in a gas station, that shows you this is not a relationship worth investing in. However, if you are called to share your life story with an attendant in a gas station, that shows you that there is something there, some spark, something to take note of; a random connection that might have a deeper possibility than filling a tank of gas.


And the deeper the relationship goes, the more special it becomes, it will eventually lead to your secret heart. You know that place. We all do. The space you fiercely protect, but that you surrender to the right person. “That’s the measure of a relationship,” she said in bright way, flashing a big smile as she propped her knees on the dashboard.

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