i begin again

courage: to tell your story with your whole heart.

we can’t practice compassion with other people until we are kind to ourselves. This. It’s this I have avoided and pretended not to know.

But compassion –

is a result of authenticity –

of vulnerability.

Nothing less.

To have a compassionate imagination, as one friend named my dearest ambition over swirling wine glasses and chocolate cake, to walk into another person’s very story- that takes the kind of gentleness we cannot know until we have done it. And we cannot do it without beginning at ourselves.

I typed this blog post weeks ago, when I first discovered what felt at the time to be the most revolutionary, inspiring, terrifying, truthful talk I had ever heard. Brene Brown told her audience (and me) on her Ted talk that we cannot begin to be compassionate, to build connection, to grow in love, unless we are vulnerable.

Really, she said, the people who live wholehearted don’t think about whether vulnerability is particularly good or bad; they simply recognize that it is necessary.

But last night I didn’t want it to be necessary.

I didn’t want to build anymore. I didn’t want to be vulnerable, to walk around with my thoughts on a blog or in the air against the black sky flecked with a lazy snowstorm. I didn’t want to think anymore about whether I tell half the truth or the whole truth, whether there is a window into my heart or not.

Sometimes the courage meets the hard place and the messy place and it seems to evaporate. Sometimes the Wednesday night heading home at 10:45 makes you think those words about authenticity and vulnerability are just words on a page without any reality, any connection to you, any roots.

And maybe that’s okay.

Maybe it’s okay to begin there. To begin again, there.

Some days you hear beautiful and true things and you don’t want them to be beautiful or true, and you begin there.

Some days, you build bird by bird, brick by brick, and you have to pause and admit to yourself that bricks and birds are not always easy. And you begin there.

And if you, wherever you are, find your courage meeting the harder places, find your eyes and arms a little weary, find your beginning in the bird by bird –

I’m with you.

We begin here.



4 thoughts on “i begin again

  1. 1. Brene Brown! and a magnificent talk.
    2. “compassionate imagination” – a perfect phrase.
    3. we begin here, every day anew, and that is one of the beauties of this life, I think. how could we survive, if it weren’t bit by bit, bird by bird, day by day?

  2. Yes, Hilary! Your compassionate imagination must begin here: God loves you. You are worthy of love because God thinks you are worthy of love. He rejoices over you with song. Those words are for you! And when you are tired of building, writing, discerning…God will gladly support you (Psalm 18), because He delights in you and because it is hard work. Maybe that’s why it is so hard! Maybe He made vulnerability the birthplace of joy and creativity because under those conditions we might involve Him! He wants to be involved with us!

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