How’s Your Heart?

When my sons were young, we had a heart-shaped rock collection. I used to think that if the house was on fire, that would be the one thing I’d grab as we headed outside to safety. Never mind any jewelry, random cash, electronics or clean underwear.

Those rocks were precious souvenirs of leisurely afternoon walks, trips to the beach and evening strolls. Each one was celebrated with “Oooohs” and “Aaaahhhs” and rated as a great find or maybe “close, but no cigar.”

I don’t know whatever became of that collection. The kids grew up and have families of their own, and I may have tossed it back to nature…who knows?

Now I have grandkids, so it’s time to start a new collection.

Since they live a fair distance away, I don’t see them often, so I’ve been stopping on my own, to pick up one or two stones while out walking, and adding them to my “jar of hearts.”

(Not the most cheerful song, but there it is, lingering in my mind, as I add to the trove.)

When Hubby and I walk together, my frequent stops probably drive him a little nuts but he just keeps going. I catch up to show him my treasure and he rolls his eyes predictably.

Maybe my own eyes are just trained to spot them, but it’s amazing how, even if I’m not paying attention, these hearts just pop!

Anyway, it got me thinking, strangely enough, about hearts and about what shape mine is in.

Coronavirus and government imposed lockdowns, including gym closings, have made it challenging, but I’ve done my best to keep up with some form of cardiovascular exercise, as I hope you have.

Today, though, my thoughts wandered toward the emotional, or spiritual condition of my heart.

This is about to get gooey…..

Scanning the roadside for heart shapes, it occurred to me that I was “looking for the love.”

No, silly, not “looking for love,” (sorry, I couldn’t resist another song reference) but “looking for THE love.”

So, in looking for the love among the ordinary, I wondered what any one rock might have to go through to reveal the heart. Was it there all along?

What causes a heart to have a smooth, rounded profile? Did it endure years of tumbling uncontrollably among others who polished it to a kinder surface?

Why does one have jagged edges and rugged angles? Is it a young newcomer to the pile, still edgy and ready to cut an unsuspecting bare foot?

Where do all the pinks, grays, charcoals, tans and whites come from? Why are some multi-toned? Did centuries of geological pressure cause their striations?

Some have one side lopped off sharply. A broken heart.?

In passing I might spot a heart-shaped rock, only to stop and find it to be two separate stones forming the heart. Do we sometimes need another to complete us?

Shadows occasionally make a triangular shaped stone falsely appear to be a heart. Tricky little devil!

Viewed from one angle, one might look heart-shaped, but from another, not so much. Deception or camouflage?

In these tumultuous and politically charged times, are we…am I… truly “looking for the love” in other people?

I’d like to think that, despite the noise and violence, there are many hearts overflowing with love in the world. I pray that mine is among them, seeking the good in other people, no matter what their political ideology, religious beliefs or gender identity might be, and looking for ways to serve.

Each individual is shaped not only by genetics, but also by life experiences coming together to form their beliefs and opinions. May I always understand this and treat them with the respect they deserve, whether we agree or not.

I pray that I might show kindness to the broken heart and compassion to those hiding and afraid. May I understand the jagged-edged heart as possibly young and easily influenced, not yet polished by life or a caring environment.

May I treasure those worn smooth by time as the precious creations they are.

While I will absolutely remain vigilant for deception and evil, may I strive to show goodwill and empathy to all hearts who share this gravely road.

Meanwhile, may my jar of hearts see frequent additions, reminding me of the love that exists when I see past the ordinary.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, MY LOVE

“A church full of people stood silently by  and let me marry him,” I mutter under my breath, a dramatic eye roll directed at the full-fledged idiot I once thought to be the perfect man.

That was forty years ago today. I have no idea where the time has gone but I can still feel the butterflies racing around inside me as I waited to walk down that aisle. At the time, it was the second longest aisle in the city. I wasn’t nervous at all about the marriage part, only that this elaborate celebration would go smoothly.

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FINDING JOY

September 1 ,2019

“Find your joy,” they say, “You have to stop worrying.”

Good advice, but how exactly does one do that? What brings joy to one person might aggravate the hell out of another.

Some folks find peace in yoga or meditation.  Some prefer long walks, or the opposite, running.  Some knit, scrapbook or binge watch Netflix.  Many find cooking therapeutic, something I’ll never understand, though I fully appreciate the products of their labors!

There are countless ways for one to disconnect from his or her stressful world.

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LETTER TO MARY

It has to be around here somewhere, hidden among stacks of papers,  photos and slides that tell the story of your life.

You must have been in your early twenties when those beach pictures were taken.  You were so young and beautiful, smiling in your shorts and tied up shirt. Flipping through them, I can almost feel the summer sun and sand on my skin.

There are black and white snapshots of you and Dad in the early days of your marriage, beginning with your wedding day and then holding your babies.  Dad had hair that seemed to get thinner as more of us came along.

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