My daughter-in-law's father had a heart transplant a few weeks ago. Jim's doing remarkably well and has a new lease on life. I've never actually known anyone who had a heart transplant until now. When I think about what leads up to the point of realizing such a drastic intervention is needed, the anticipation that accompanies the wait for a new heart, the actual procedure of replacing one heart with another, hoping the body doesn't decide to reject the new organ, and the idea of living life with a heart that use to beat in another person's body, I'm left speechless!
Over the past couple of days I've been thinking a lot about hearts and transplants. It's not actually the heart transplant surgery I've been focused on. It's more of a metaphorical heart transplant I've been imagining. My own heart has felt wounded and heavy by the current political climate in our country. It's a climate that has birthed, and continues to nurture, a presidential nominee who spews heartless rhetoric about fellow human beings and seeks to destroy the lives of those he considers "others". It's not about a political party, it's about a political candidate. Donald Trump's words and actions show a heart that is closed off to anything other than his own selfish desires and accompanying ideologies. Okay, so maybe some of you will say it's a lobotomy that's needed in this case and not a heart transplant, but I'm going with the heart symbolism so humor me, will ya?
It's not just politics that's grabbed the attention of my heart lately. My heart aches when I read the letter written by a young woman to her rapist and at the same time read too many victim shaming statements that say things like "she was drunk so what did she expect?". As a Facebook meme so brilliantly put it, "she expected a hangover. That's what she expected". The rapist was an Olympic hopeful and Stanford University student who received an unbelievably lenient sentence for the crime he admitted to. He also had letters written on his behalf from his father and friends who referred to the rape as "20 minutes of action" and made claims that the sentence was too harsh, and merely an attempt at being politically correct. Once again, I am witness to cold hearts of selfishness and self-absorption.
The Dalai Lama has said " I believe that the only true religion consists in having a good heart". The good heart is willing to be open to other ideas and people and possibilities. The good heart is willing to recognize mistakes, apologize, and be held accountable. The good heart works on gaining self-awareness and diminishing self-absorption. Good hearts are desperately needed right now! Transplants would be wonderful but you have to have a willing patient, patiently wait, and then hope the new heart is not rejected by the body. So perhaps the best we can do (yes, you and me) is to check our own hearts. Let us have hearts that beat with deep compassion and always have room to love one more.
Unlike Jim, most of us won't ever need a heart transplant in order to live. We won't get a new lease on life by way of another's person's heart beating in our chest. But we all have the opportunity, and dare I say obligation, to improve our own lives and the lives of others by choosing to have a good heart. Open. Always. In all ways.
I had hoped to post once a week, and did for a short time. Unfortunately, my doctorate research and other obligations have taken priority over the blog. BUT, I will return soon! Some postings may be articles I've written for publication, messages I've delivered in congregational settings, or excerpts from papers written in my doctoral classes.