Matters of the Heart

Matters of the Heart

Sometimes I read a passage during my morning quiet time that “nails me to my pew,” as my pastor father used to say. Mark Nepo, one of the deepest thinkers I know of (other than my father, of course) has done it again. From “Meeting the World,” in The Book of Awakening, he writes:

“The heart is very much like a miraculous balloon. Its lightness comes from staying full.”

I love it when someone jumps inside my mind, pokes around in there, and then distills my mode of living down into a couple of sentences.

I needed that reminder this week. That holiday is coming up. The one filled with romance and love and hugs and hearts.

Yep, Valentine’s Day.

It’s a skimpy holiday for me. I’m divorced with no love interest at the moment. My kids are grown and have their own lives and loves.

Don’t get me wrong, though. People love me. It’s just that I’m no one’s number one.

It’s a particularly tender month for me, as it is filled with matters of the heart. My divorce was final this month. My elder son, who died at age fifteen, was born this month. And the twelfth is the anniversary of my bout with transverse myelitis, that malicious inflammation of the spinal cord that began with a mild case of the flu and then left me paralyzed for the last eighteen years.

Yet, I’m happy. My heart is full—a testament to Nepo’s words—because my life is full.

But why?

Nepo offers this:

You must meet the outer world with your inner world or existence will crush you… Meeting the days with our hearts prevents collapse. This is why ninety-year-old widows remain committed to tending small flowers in the spring, why ten-year-olds with very little to eat care for stray kittens, why painters going blind paint more… This is why when we think we can’t possibly try again, we let out a sigh that goes back through the centuries, and then, despite all our experience, we inhale and try again.


I’ll admit it. When my youngest child left for college, I mourned the loss, really mourned that loss. I guess I felt that outer world of change pressing in on me and my empty heart.

Yet, it was a joyful emptiness. We want to see our children grow up and out, right? That’s. Our. Job.

But that barren feeling wouldn’t go away on its own; I had to fill it up. As I looked around at those empty bedrooms and the blank spaces on my calendar, I realized I now had room for other interests that had been lying dormant underneath all those parenting years. New routines, friends, and hobbies slowly filled my world and lightened my heart.

I may be no one’s number one, but I’m pretty sure I’m ranked in the top ten, maybe even top five, in many of my loved ones’ lives. But the truth is, that choice isn’t mine. My choice is to keep my heart focused and filled with the things that bring me joy.

And here’s one of them—my precious Blakely Faye. Pretty gussied up for five months old! She always makes my heart swell with love.

Blakely Faye - Pretty gussied up for five months old! 

How about you? How do you lighten your heart? Tell me about it. I’d love to know.

And yes, whether yours is skimpy or ample, Happy Valentine’s Day!

My best—always,

Becky  (Nana B)

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