What’s a Heart to Do?

Recognizing February is national heart month, I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate my blog to, “the Heart.” In looking up the definition of heart in the dictionary, I was impressed by a few words chosen to describe the heart. Aside from the anatomical definition of the heart muscle, a few words describing one’s poetic or spiritual heart caught my attention.

The heart was described as “the innermost part of something, the core, the center, and as hollow.” The heart is regarded as “the center of a person’s thoughts and emotions, especially love and compassion.” The heart was also described as “the inmost or most essential part of any body or system and lastly, as the part most hidden and within.”

The particular words above used to describe the “heart” that I want to explore further are: hollow, the center of a person’s thoughts and emotions, and the part most hidden and within.

To provide you with some brief background about myself, it probably won’t surprise you to learn I have always been fascinated by the heart and its physical function within our bodies. I have focused my professional career in the field of medical and surgical cardiac nursing and cardiovascular clinical research. My usual thought processes about the heart are typically much more academic and are not at all rooted in thoughts and emotion.

And yet, this February I am struck by these very word choices in the dictionary definition of “heart.” The heart is hollow and must be filled. The heart is a vessel that can gracefully fill until its full and then, in order to maintain a sense of balance, will empty. There is a unique exchange of giving and receiving occurring at the core of one’s emotional being at their heart.

The heart is the center of one’s emotional being. It is within one’s heart that thoughts and emotions intertwine and produce our sense of feelings. And yet, this core of thought and emotion is considered to be the most hidden and deepest within our being. Possibly it is so deeply hidden within, we are unaware of its existence.

Possibly by remaining the most hidden and deepest within, we are able to protect our thoughtful and emotional heart from the hurt and pain that exists as part of our outer being we project to the world. Or maybe if we keep our heart hidden and deep within, we are able to more effectively deny our heart of its dreams.

Or possibly we keep our hearts hidden and deep within because we sense the gift that lies inside of our heart and we choose not to share our love and vulnerability.

During this month of February, in recognition of national heart month, take time to examine your own innermost heart. When you look within your own heart, what do you find? When you stop and mindfully reflect within your heart, what do you notice? What thoughts do you begin to notice?

Is your heart full? Is your heart hollow? What thoughts and emotions lie at your innermost core?

During this February month of the Heart, take a moment each day to stop and notice those around you. The person standing beside you pumping gas, the person checking out in front of you at the grocery store, the person next to you at the traffic light… take a moment to really see and notice each of these people passing next to you during your day. As you take time each day to notice someone sitting next to you in church, or walking next to you, recognize each of these persons also has a spiritual and emotional heart that may be feeling full with a sense of peace or feeling hollow with a sense of burden and hurting that lies hidden and deep within their emotional beings.

At one time or another, each of us is the person with the full heart with a sense of peace and gratitude and having a lot to give and likewise, each of us is the person feeling hollow and empty and overwhelmed. If your heart is full at this time, look around you to see the heart at the core of those persons who may be down on their luck, feeling hollow, empty, and overwhelmed and offer these persons a caring word, a smile, an out stretched hand to help each of them know they are not alone.

If your heart is hollow, hurting and feeling overwhelmed at this time, look around you to see the heart at the core of those persons whose heart is full and offer those persons a caring word, a smile, an out stretched hand to receive their help and know you are not alone.

Sharing your joys of a full heart and concerns of a hollow heart may enable both the person with the feelings of emptiness and the person with the feelings of fullness to experience compassion and even joy as these two hearts hidden deep within are able to connect with each other.

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