Friday, February 13, 2009

Hearts and Locks

This heart-shaped lock secures an old oak door in the hill town of Vezelay, France. In this region romantic love as we know it was born during the Middle Ages. Why have so many locks and lockets through the centuries used the heart as the guide for their design? Is it because love is tender and the image of an iron encasement offers a sense of protection? It is because love is a mystery and entering its pleasures and vitality requires that we find a key of insight to open its secrets? Is it a kind of mockery, saying I love you, but stay out?

I think heart-shaped locks are yet another timeless technique where designers have used specific forms and materials to carry us into the freedom of the formless spirit. Hardened steel secures a thick door. The curves of the heart shape offer a sensuous invitation. But, entry is blocked by the deadbolt. The only way into the heart is inserting the key specifically made as the soulmate of that particular lock. All this is the physical setup for the moment when the key is turned, the tumblers of the bolt revolve, the lock unlatches, the door flies open and the love hidden inside flies out. The protection of love is not the purpose of these locks. They are about the joy of releasing love.

Everyday, the news screams with violence enacted from the dark heart of humanity. Maybe the human heart is made shadowy and hard by withholding love. Countless times a day, most of us choose to lock our love down. We act sociably enough to get by and share a few drops of care and affection. Each withholding of love makes the heart a bit darker and harder. Maybe the makers of heart-shaped lock are not warning us to hide our love away, but to unlock our hearts and celebrate the love that is longing to be shared. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I think it is time for people to unlock their hearts to unconditional love. Not mere romantic love, but love for oneself and for others at large.