Before Christmas, I went to do some shopping in a nearby town and wandered into a home goods shop filled with beautiful, rustic Mexican furniture, décor, dishware, and the like. There were so many neat things in the store to look at, and as I meandered through observing the items, I came across this piece that drew me in like a magnet. I was immediately transfixed by it. The piece was over a foot wide and consisted of a big, black wooden heart with gold wings and a kind of crown on top, and across the heart were nailed all different kinds of little, metal figurines. An arm, a bull, an owl, a shoe, an angel, a little girl… I’d never seen anything like this before, but it struck me so much that I felt I had to buy it.
When I brought it home and placed it over my kitchen door, I started realizing more why I’d been touched by the piece. There was something magnificent to me in the boldness of this bravely winged, but blackened heart that so many things of life had been nailed to — it’d been pierced by life itself. And I was reminded of that classic line from Leonard Cohen…
“There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”
Isn’t that what it means to love… and to live? If you don’t let things into your heart (despite the potential for heartache and pain), then you are not truly loving, or living.
The next morning when I went into the kitchen to make coffee, I pulled a chair over and went up to have a closer look at the heart. I’d done some Googling the night before and had come to find out this type of Mexican folk art is called a milagro — the little figures are actually religious folk charms traditionally used for healing purposes and as votive offerings, and milagros means “miracle” or “surprise” in Spanish. It was not lost on me, of course, that Miracles is the name of my last album — but what was even more surprising, as I looked more closely, was to discover a single angel wing as one of the charms. I hadn’t noticed it at all before, but it was exactly the same charm that my ex-boyfriend and I had worn on necklaces when we were together. He had one wing and I had the other. And here it was again in another form.
I don’t pretend to know how these things work in life, but I did take it as a sign — and one that I already knew I’d been experiencing in my own healing work — that this heart has lived, it has loved, it has been broken… and it is stronger and greater for it all.