Sharing your big heart with others


I read recently that the heart emoji is the most used emoji of them all. I am a fan of the heart emoji. There is something simple, kind, and joyful about this ubiquitous red symbol. An argument can be made that it is overused and trite, but I would counter that messages of love can never be overstated.

The messages on the back of NFL helmets to CHOOSE LOVE or BE LOVE warm my heart. Football can be both poetry in motion and a violent clash of bodies. I love this constant reminder, to both those playing and those watching the game, of this fundamental tenet of most world religions; amidst contentious rulings and quickly escalating tempers one can always choose love.

Both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi lived their belief that love conquers all. Gandhi’s words, “where there is love there is life and where there is love there is light,” illustrates the immensity and buoyancy of love. Choosing love means living the difficulties and complexities of life with kindness and care. Choosing love means holding other beings or fragile ideas gently in your heart with tender generosity.

We often think of love as something we bestow on others or others bestow on us. But loving oneself is something far more transformative. Being aware and accepting of our own emotions and handling them with loving care can be one of the most important things we do for ourselves. When self-doubt, worry, anger, fear, or other difficult emotions arise, we can choose to examine these emotions in ourselves with an open-hearted tenderness. We can choose love.

The meditative Buddhist practice of metta, i.e., loving kindness is a way to practice love for ourselves and others. Love is both simple and easy, but layers of lived experience can make loving oneself and others exceedingly difficult. There are many variations to this loving kindness meditation called metta, but basically, it is a progressive visualization of loving yourself and other beings, whether they are friends, enemies, or beings unknown.

In yoga, there is a sequence of heart-opening poses that help create space in your chest and ribcage, the place that holds your physical heart. The practice of these poses is meant to open physical space in your chest, ribs, neck, and shoulders to give you better access to life-filling breath. But this physical practice is a means to meditate and generate a greater open awareness and loving acceptance of our ourselves and others in all life’s complexities. These poses train you to lead with your heart both literally and symbolically. These heart-opening poses help you live with a more expansive heart.

Loving more, creating more heart space, and flexing our big heart muscle makes us better people, individually and collectively.

Last weekend, in memory of her father who relied on blood transfusions in the last years of his life, Liz Staas organized a Red Cross Blood Drive at Andrews House. The simple, loving act of asking for donations for this life-sustaining substance shows what love and generous hearts can physically do for one another. Seventy pints of blood were collected to help other people in their time of need. More than half of the donors were first-time donors or donors that haven’t given in many years. All on a Saturday morning in our tiny corner of the world.

What will you do with your big heart?

Mel Corroto is not a pastor, but she works with many pastors and church communities in her role as director of Andrews House in Delaware.

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