It is the season of gray sky and the sound of wings, quacks and cackles. I journey to California’s wetlands as I do each winter to observe migratory waterfowl, and on this day I am treated to the company of three kinds of teals—green-winged, blue-winged, cinnamon—and mallards, gadwalls, ruddy ducks, buffleheads, grebes. Binoculars in hand, I fall in love with the birds over again as I watch them swimming, preening, diving into the water.
Striding along the water’s edge, I am moved by so much beauty and aware of each solitary footstep as the ghosts of lost loves walk beside me. To live with an open heart is to allow the whole spectrum, to catch my breath observing the light on iridescent green feathers and to not reject the tears in my eyes.
At a recent retreat, Buddhist teacher Phillip Moffitt read this quote by C. S. Lewis: “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. 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. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Today during this season of reflection, I recommit myself to the path of vulnerability.