Advent with me: take heart

Having posted a couple of days ago about risk and hope, I’ve been thinking a little bit about courage and the heart.

A good friend of mine sent me a link a few months ago, to a letter Ted Hughes wrote to his son, Nicholas. It’s a long piece of fatherly advice about being vulnerable in order to stay alive. You can read the whole thing here – it’s good advice. And for those of you who are time poor, here’s an extract.

That’s the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armour, and the naked child is flung out onto the world. That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember. But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells—he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self — struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence — you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself. The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.

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