Life, my dear Father, is so beautiful,
a gift precious, inexpressible.
And yet it is so fragile,
like a flower’s tender bloom,
blossoming in the morning
and reaching out to the sun,
opening its petals to drink in
the light and the warmth of day,
and to surrender its beauty
to the beautiful rays poured into it.
And yet in the evening chill
it curves inward upon itself in fright,
in flight from the pain of the cold,
and its petals become withered,
Ah, Father, and in a single moment
life can end,
this treasure in earthen vessels—
a single slip, and the vessel breaks.
How can I carry these two realities
as one within my heart?
Beauty and fragility…
Preciousness and vulnerability…
Filled with gratitude for the gift of life,
I drive home late into the night,
My eyes are tired, strained,
and I think:
in a single moment, the blink of an eye,
my life could end.
I could simply lose my concentration,
or even doze for a moment,
and life is gone.
What is this?
The more I love life
—or, rather, love those whom,
in this life, you have allowed me to encounter,
whom you have entrusted to me—
the more I yearn to remain alive for their sake,
the more I yearn to love them
and to know them more deeply in this life.
My heart feels its vulnerability,
that what you have given into my hands
is a sacred trust to be protected, sheltered.
And yet, in the same moment,
I still know the freedom that you have
fashioned within me over the years:
that I welcome this gift, this trust
of those whose beauty has touched my heart,
and the gift that you have given to me
for their sake, and for the sake of the Church…
and yet I carry it, not as my own possession,
but with open, empty, and upraised hands.
I welcome deeply, so deeply that the gift
pierces and wounds my heart—
and such a beautiful wound it is!
And I carry within me this sacred mystery,
the unrepeatable, unique mystery
of those whom you love,
and whom you have, in your love,
entrusted also to me.
And the gift of those whom I encounter,
your beloved children,
intersects in my heart
with the gift of love poured into me by you—
and my heart becomes, as it were,
a single wound of loving encounter:
between the thirst of their aching hearts,
yearning, my God, for you,
and your own thirst,
ardently seeking and pursuing them.
I want to stand here, to stand here
throughout every moment of my life—
to abide in being given,
and to be given in abiding
at the mysterious place in the depth of every heart
which you have so lovingly made:
the Cross of Christ implanted deep in human flesh,
the place where thirst and thirst encounter,
where the loneliness of the human heart
is pierced by the love of God in Jesus,
and solitude becomes encounter,
and encounter, the truth of mutual self-giving,
and self-giving, the joy of intimacy
where Lover and beloved live,
truly, in one another, forever.
Our eyes can only see
when we learn that Beauty looks on us.
Our hearts can only know themselves
to be beloved…
when we feel his gaze piercing into us.
Yes, this is where the heart of the mystery lies.
Beauty is fragile, and love easily wounded,
and yet both are, really, unbreakable,
stronger than all pain, all darkness,
and enduring beyond the boundary of death.
Love, the love of God given in Jesus,
is a cord that touches every heart
and, enveloping it, weaves it together,
intimately and inseparably,
to the Heart of God who is Love.
The heart still feels afraid,
does it not?
For this gift of love is so mysterious
and hidden from our eyes.
Human beings fail to love
as we thirst to be loved…
and even when they do love,
we still thirst for something more.
But God’s love is such that
it can never reject, abandon,
or turn away from us when we fail,
and it is so great that it is
inexhaustible in the gentle beauty
with which it gives itself.
Our God, he is an overflowing torrent,
whose passionate desire for us
must restrain itself,
so as not to overwhelm our hearts.
But if we open the doors of the soul,
if we welcome the gift of his light—
if we become vulnerable before him,
we shall find that the woundedness
of our being is transformed by his gentle touch.
To be vulnerable means to be woundable,
to have a heart open, defenseless,
to be touched by what comes from without.
Ah, but why be vulnerable
when so often one has been rejected,
when one’s hope and desire has been
But when the heart withdraws
from this openness,
from vulnerable nakedness in trust,
it turns in upon itself
like a rose refusing to open its petals
to the warm rays of the sun.
And then it forgets the joy of living,
the happiness of looking in another’s eyes,
and of allowing oneself to be gazed upon in return.
It forgets the inexpressible gift
that is a simple embrace,
a word of love and affirmation,
the abiding presence of one who loves.
But who, who can teach us vulnerability—
to bear the fragility of life in its beauty,
and to bear the beauty in its fragility?
It is the One who transforms vulnerability
into the security of openness,
the confidence of love,
and the joy of loving encounter…
and who, in the vulnerability
of His own naked and wounded Heart,
shows that Love is stronger than death,
and is always there for us,
never failing, and greater than we can desire,
satisfying every thirst.
Yes, Jesus, you enter into our vulnerability,
our openness to be wounded,
and lay your Heart bare,
taking our wounds as your own.
But in doing this you transform our wounds…
into the wound of love.
In doing this you suffuse our fragility
with the surety of undying Love…
a Love which will hold us, shelter us,
even through the darkest nights,
and works all for the best,
giving itself to us tenderly, unceasingly,
in each moment and each thing.
And even the fragility of death
—if life, in the blink of an eye, ceases—
life, really, never ends.
For even such a moment,
and perhaps more than all the rest,
is sheltered safely in your hands.
Two vulnerable hearts encounter.
The human heart, wounded with fear,
with insecurity and doubt,
with the inability to welcome love
in the fear that it will be hurt again.
And your Heart, Jesus,
wounded with longing and ardent desire,
restlessly thirsting for the one whom you love.
You see in this one such beauty,
more than can be expressed or felt,
and this beauty ravishes your Heart
and draws it to the one you love.
“You are all beautiful, my beloved,
you are all beautiful,” you say unceasingly
deep within the beloved’s heart.
But the human heart, broken,
struggles to accept this truth.
So then you draw nearer,
and take into yourself this fear,
the loneliness of your beloved,
who, for you, is not a burden,
but simply a precious gift.
On the other hand,
even in its fear, the heart yearns for this love,
and this yearning tears at it,
drawing it restlessly to more…
and this, too, you take, Jesus,
sheltering its yearning within your own.
And in this way, gradually, gradually,
you transform the wound of fear
into the wound of love.
Then the heart is no longer afraid
to be vulnerable, to be fragile,
for it has come to know that,
in such fragility, it cannot truly break.
This is because it is sheltered
by the tenderness, the strength,
of those hands that are yours,
that Heart that carries it gently within itself…
and will never cease to carry it forever,
all the way into the fullness of God’s embrace.