The Heart of the Matter

This past week I spent most of my time packing my apartment into boxes. The clinical phase of the physician assistant program I'm enrolled in includes rotations all across the Phoenix valley. So for the next year, I'm keeping things simple...living with family, friends, and school subsidized housing at the different clinical rotation sites. Bright red mixer, Mt. Rushmore coffee mug, mismatched pillows, picture frames, well-loved couch, bottle opener from my favorite restaurant, and even espresso maker from Italy found their respective temporary homes in cardboard and shrink wrap. Once everything was packed, my roommate and I cleaned the apartment from top to bottom. When we were done, I laid on the floor and stared at the ceiling. I could feel my heart pound in my stomach. I knew I couldn't stay, but I wasn't ready to go.

I pressed my hand over my chest and perceived its rise and fall with each heart beat. As I felt my own heart beat, I remembered the smooth inside of the atrium, powerful walls of the ventricles, and delicate coronary vessels of the heart that I dissected and held during anatomy lab. The heart I held in lab was strong, but vulnerable in my hands. I closed my eyes and contemplated getting up, but couldn't just yet. The whole apartment was clean, empty. Lying there felt right. So, I stayed and pictured the Sacred Heart of the Lord, pierced, bleeding, crowned with thorns, and on fire. I pictured those same smooth atria, strong ventricles, and septum between them pierced, but still beating despite the wounds. In the image, and always, the Lord is strong because he is a vulnerable human. As human, he is willing to feel, to bleed, and to give us everything. Christ did not keep any of His walls, not even the ones in His heart. He let go of his His mother Mary, His friends, His home, and His very breath.

Reluctantly, I got up and walked around the apartment one last time, checking for scuffs, dust, and marks I could wipe off walls before we left. Now that the apartment was empty, I could see the physical walls of the apartment that I didn't want to let go of. I knew that these physical, visible walls were just like the invisible walls inside my heart. As I let go of the physical walls of my apartment, I knew the Lord was asking me to let go of those invisible walls around my heart too. I became aware that these invisible, immovable walls in and around my heart stood in stark contrast to the image of Christ's open heart, pierced through the septum, the smooth atria, and the muscular ventricles...bleeding...but on eternal fire. His love has no boundaries, but only gives. As I reflected on the Lord's heart, I realized the walls had been around my own heart long enough. The heart of the matter was that I didn't really need the coffee mug from Mr. Rushmore, the mismatched pillows, the espresso make from Italy, and everything else so much as I needed to be free to give all of myself always. By now it was dark. So, with the sweet relief of packing and cleaning complete, I turned the keys in the ignition, rolled the windows down, and drove down the 101 east, open to whatever adventure came next.

We all have our walls physically, and also emotionally. The adventure is to be open and brave enough to let Christ pierce holes in them and give us the strength to walk away from them so that we may experience Christ-like vulnerability. As the Oh Hello's said, "Hello my old heart. How have you been? How is it being locked away? Don't you worry. In there you're safe, and it's true you'll never beat, but you'll never break. Nothing lasts forever. Some things aren't meant to be. But you'll never find the answers until you set your old heart free."