The Perfect Heart

I am continuing my theme that everyone seems to be going through something this summer. This is a rough summer for many people I know when it comes to love and there also seems to be a lot of death as well. Those of us who work with students know that we strive to maintain a certain sense of positivity. This morning I attended a breakfast for the Division of Student Affairs. In the effort to motivate us, our VP of Student Affairs told us this story to motivate us before the school year begins:

One day a young woman was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that she had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired her heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. She even kept it in a glass case to protect it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young woman was very proud and boasted more loudly about her beautiful heart.

Suddenly, an old woman appeared at the front of the crowd and said “Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.” The crowd and the young woman looked at the old woman’s heart. It was wrapped in burlap and she unwrapped it for all to see. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.

The people stared – how can she say her heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young woman looked at the old woman’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” she said. “Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes,” said the old woman, “Yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance.

Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”

The young woman stood silently with tears running down her cheeks. She took her heart out of the glass case and walked up to the old woman. She reached into her perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out and offered it to the old woman with trembling hands. The old woman took her offering, placed it in her heart and then took a piece from her old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young woman’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young woman looked at her heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old woman’s heart flowed into hers. They embraced and walked away side by side.

How sad it must be to go through life with a whole untouched heart.

While he talked about about how we try to guard our hearts we must realize that the best way to live life is with our hearts open. These students deserve that much from us.

I was stunned after hearing this story. I have mentioned before that love is the perfect emotion but it never appears perfect when we feel it. Some of us keep a barrier around our hearts so that we can never get hurt. We should never see that loving someone is a bad thing, no matter much much it hurts to tear a piece of it out and give it to someone. Our scarred hearts should be a reminder that we have the ability to love and continue to love.

So when someone says that it is better to never love than to be loved, show them this story. I wear my scars proud because my heart, no matter many mistakes I have made, is a good one. My heart is beautiful and many times as I want to encase my heart in glass I know that I have the unique ability to tear out a piece and give it to someone.

You too have this ability, in case of emergency, break the glass and love.
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