We’ve been so serious lately as a nation (and rightly so), but on this day before Valentine’s Day, let’s be playful. Instead of an essay, I invite you to think about phrases of the heart. Think about them, add to them, let them be part of your conversation and prayer over these days when we celebrate the faithfulness of the human and work to overcome the vagaries of the heart. Ready?
Happy heart / big-hearted / heavy-hearted / warmhearted / dear heart / lose heart / stouthearted / brave-hearted / heart and soul / heartache / heart to heart talk / sweetheart / cold-hearted / my heart melted / open your heart / bottom of my heart / heartbeat away / close to my heart / broken heart / you’re all heart (and of course, hearts of palm and celery hearts.) OK, now let’s get serious.
Jesus is described as a man of heart. Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart (Mt. 11.29). My heart is moved with pity for the crowd (Mk.8.2). He was well aware of what is in the human heart (Jn.2.25). My heart is filled with sorrow (Mk.14.34). In Matthew, My Heart is nearly broken with sorrow.
And sadly, it is said of Judas that immediately after the Passover meal, “Satan entered his heart.” (Jn. 13.27). Better to remember Mary, who reflected on all that had happened in her heart (Lk.2.19) and who heard from Simeon that her heart would be pierced (Lk2.35).
The Scriptures also describe what our hearts are to be like. Love the Lord with your whole heart. (Mt.22.37) Remember that where your treasure is so is your heart (Mt. 6.21). Paul invites us to set our hearts on greater gifts (1Cor.12.31). He also tells us that the Holy Spirit will stand guard over our hearts and mind (Phil.4.7). The psalms remind us to give thanks to God with all our hearts (Ps.9.2) and to pray for a steadfast heart (Ps.57.8).
And here’s a whole set of beliefs and conclusions and turns of phrase collected from human wisdom or human folly about the human heart: The heart does not always have its way. Our hearts can change. The heart takes risks. Communities as well as individuals have heart. Only the heart can forgive. The longest distance is from the head to the heart. God can fix a human heart if we give God all the pieces. The heart is where we suffer.
Today, as the work of the day continues, as we meet people, perform whatever life tasks are assigned to us or which we voluntarily take on, as we eat and drink and love and explore the world, as we suffer whatever pain is uniquely ours, let us try to be wholehearted and single-hearted. Even when we are restless or anxious or subject to envy or rejection, when we seek God today, we shall find God (Jer.29.13). Count yourself among the believers who were of one heart and one mind (Acts.4.32).
May what you have heard from the beginning remain in your hearts (Jn.2.24).
~ Sister Joan Sobala