Monday, June 10, 2013

For The Disappointed And Downtrodden Heart

Monday, June 10th, 2013 - 1:30pm
Matter of Taste Coffee Bar
Kitchener, Ontario
Soundtrack: Ella Fitzgerald - The Cole Porter Songbook

What is the first thing that most people ask of each other upon meeting? Perhaps it is "How are you?" which is often a superficial inquiry if you're strangers. But for the most part the question is "What do you do?" Our answer, as it goes, goes a long way in defining for the other person who we are. We're architects, or teachers, or factory workers perhaps.

But what of people who are unable to work, either temporarily or for a long-term or permanent basis? Who are they if they are not defined by their occupation? Are they second-class citizens? To put it personally,  since I haven't worked for quite some time, am I a second-class citizen? What of those who are born without the ability to speak or hear or practically do anything for themselves? What is their value?

That's why the first question that I like to ask of people is "What are you passionate about?" Or perhaps "What is it that gets your heart most excited?" or "What do you dream of?" Questions like these really get the ball rolling. A lot of people despise what they do for money from 9 to 5, yet ask them what their passions are and you'll light up their eyes. "I want to be a leader," "I've always wanted to take singing lessons," "I want to go to another country and teach English to kids."

But let's take it another step further. What if we were unable to do absolutely anything. Many of us know people, or at least of  people who seemingly can't do anything on their own. They can't see or hear, they can't eat on their own, they have to be bathed. They can't even articulate their dreams in a way we could understand them. What of them?

And this is the value of the human heart. I believe that if you or I were completely incapacitated today - even for the rest of our lives - we would still be able to love and be loved.  I believe that our hearts are made of love and for love. There is no heart that can not change their ways and choose to love and be loved. I have very few concrete answers to the mysteries of life, and that's ok with me. Recently I attended a funeral, and it got me thinking again of how few answers I have about life and death. All that I can say is this: From love I came, in love I live, to love I will return.

My encouragement to you if you're overwhelmed or disappointed by life, or if you feel that your life really doesn't make a difference is this: It is not what you do that defines you. Your heart defines you, and within it is a storehouse of love. You are love.


Mark Andrew Nouwen