Jul 24 2013

Beach Finds: Our Funny Hearts

Published by at 9:07 pm under Minister's Musings

 Summer walks on the beach:

The mind-chatter that fills the year’s workdays subsides. The senses take over—through the warm grainy massage of sand between our toes. The whoosh and roar of breaking waves. The jangling collars and flapping tongues of dogs chasing sticks into the surf. The quiet intent of children building sandcastles, and their shrieks when the tide swamps them. The pulse of sun and breeze on bare skin.

And of course, through the treasures we find in the sand.

This summer my walks unearth a trove of lopsided hearts. First, a Mount Rushmore of craggy green and yellow rock, just an inch and a half tall, with the heart’s tip broken clean away. Then, on another beach, a pockmarked gray stone, light as  a feather and pierced through with a perfect round hole just about where the right ventricle would be. And finally, still further away, a blue-gray rock just right for skipping across the waves, so finely edged with salty rings that it looks like petrified wood.

Our Funny Hearts


 All of them, hearts—but not the Hallmark kind. Life and the elements have tossed and tumbled these hearts into broken, beautiful works of art.

I bring them home with me, to make sure that I remember.

For many of us, this summer has brought plenty of wear and tear on our hearts. Our main struggles may be internal—illnesses of mind or body that seem almost insurmountable; the loss of a beloved friend or family member, whose absence we feel every moment of every day. We may also be grieving, angry, or wearied by the persistent weight of those public oppressions that devalue some of us human beings. I have felt despair over the stalled movement toward immigration reform, renewed attacks on women’s rights over our own bodies, and the pernicious death-dealing impact of racism and other –isms gone unrecognized and unaddressed.

Storms toss and tumble and wrench our hearts into all kinds of crazy shapes.

And at the same time … On my travels this summer, I also experience the life-giving power of love—friendship love, community love—to heal, to remind us of joy, to break our hearts open with laughter, to knit our souls together with shared memories. I listen to audiobooks from the Dalai Lama (The Art of Happiness), Jill Bolte Taylor (My Stroke of Insight), and to podcasts such as Krista Tippett’s “On Being.” Like the spate of hearts I find on the beach, these sources all remind me that, yes, suffering is a part of life, and that we have tremendous choices about how we live.

We can live so that we create happiness, contentment, meaning, fulfillment for ourselves and others. Like a true UU, I have no doubt about the power we have to make good with our lives, no matter what our circumstances.

We start by seeing, and loving, our funny, faithful, wounded, strong hearts—yours, mine, others’. And we need each other to learn how to do that.

I can’t wait to see you in church.


With great love for you and for all that we do together,

 Rev. Nancy

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