Linda, I love you with all of my heart. That’s what my grandma used to say to me. My sisters and I were the youngest of 26 grandchildren. I was Grandma’s favorite; she told me so.
When I was young, she often spent the night with us. She slept in my bedroom, on the other twin-sized bed and I was afraid that she would die there. My Grandma was the only elderly (in my eyes) person I was with regularly. And to be honest, I didn’t know what I would do without her.
There are lots of stories I could tell: the time I ran away from home and hid in her dirt-floored garage for hours, the times I spent the night with her and we shared popcorn with too much melted butter, the songs she sang to me and the stories she told at bedtime, homemade noodles drying on the kitchen table, variety shows (with clothesline curtains) in her back yard, and in later years her “streaking” through our living room when I had teenage friends over, her mind had slipped from the time she wrote that note.
After all these years and my regular purging of stuff that I don’t need to keep even for sentimental reasons, I still have that scrap of paper. My heart opened on paper torn from a small spiral notebook, the folded crease yellowed, the script of another era. I don’t remember when or where my grandma wrote that she loved me with all her heart. That scrap matters.
Heart space. Lead with your heart. From the heart. Heartfelt thanks. Open your heart. My heart is broken. Since Jesus came into my heart…
What does it mean to love with, lead with, open, break, or mend a heart? What is this heart anyway?
Parker Palmers considers in his book, Healing the Heart of Democracy, that “heart” is at the center of our being and knowing,
In this book, the word heart reclaims its original meaning. “Heart” comes from the Latin cor and points not merely to our emotions but to the core of the self, that center place where all of our ways of knowing converge—intellectual, emotional, sensory, intuitive, imaginative, experiential, relational, and bodily, among others. The heart is where we integrate what we know in our minds with what we know in our bones, the place where our knowledge can become more fully human. Cor is also the Latin root from which we get the word courage. When all that we understand of self and world comes together in the center place called the heart, we are more likely to find the courage to act humanely on what we know.
Sometimes, I do know when my heart is opened, but I don’t have the courage to go along.
If my heart is that center place where all my ways of knowing come together, maybe that is also some of the mystery when tears start to well up behind my eyes, my nose weeps with those backed up tears, and my voice gets a little quivery—if I actually even need to say something.
I’m always surprised by these experiences: the time the lady at the pay booth at the airport parking lot waved me through sensing I needed a break with reality; when I turn a corner and am caught by the beauty that stands in reminder of the steadfastness of the earth’s care; when my eyes fill while watching a television show or movie and I have no idea why. Are these moments that are beyond the definable ways we connect our spirits?
Mitch’s friend, Drew, a pastor near New York City, wondered about social distancing and the importance of heartfelt connection. He discovered that while we may remain two meters or 6 feet apart, our heart energy extends beyond that distance. He said that scientist and theologian, Barbara Holmes, emphasizes that the vibrational field of the human heart stretches out ten feet in front of us, and 10 feet behind us. That’s four feet more than the 6 feet social distancing requires.
Several years ago at the large university where I worked, I was walking in an area of campus I didn’t typically visit. I noticed a man sitting in a lawn chair in a grassy area, just a bit off the walking path. He had placed another lawn chair a few feet away from his. The scene seemed wildly out of place. As I got closer, I noticed his clerical collar and a tented sign near the sidewalk. I don’t remember exactly what the sign announced but I do remember he was offering a deeper conversation with whoever passed if they chose to stop and sit and open their heart.
In my experience, I know that it is true that the reach of our heart is palatable and stretches beyond our conception of time and place and emotion. So, I’m wondering if this being human is a heart pause—to be a person first—instead of after the calculated considerations we usually make. The heart is that deep center where we aren’t afraid to risk being ourselves.
Parker goes on to say,
The politics of our time is the “politics of the brokenhearted”—an expression that will not be found in the analytical vocabulary of political science or in the strategic rhetoric of political organizing. Instead it is an expression from the language of human wholeness. There are some human experiences that only the heart can comprehend and only heat-talk can convey. Among them are certain aspects of politics, by which I mean the essential and eternal human effort to craft the common life on which we all depend.
… to have the courage today to love with all my opened heart.