The Lord has given me the gift of a tender heart. I don’t always view it as a gift, I don’t always want people to know about it, but on occassions I am reminded to be thankful for it. Now this sensitivity doesn’t mean I cry when I see a dead deer and worry about Bambi. It also doesn’t mean that I sob over soap operas and run to see every chick flick in theaters.
What it does mean is that I nearly cried the other night when I saw a gorgeous sunset. It means I cannot read “A Child Called It” because I feel physically sick and begin to feel depressed. My sister brought the book home from the library several years ago and I tried to read part of it. The story focuses on the abuse a young boy endures at the hands of his mother. I feel sick just thinking about the way I felt when I read the first pages. This sensitive heart causes me to remember things people said or did years ago that they probably didn’t intend to be lasered into my memory. It meant that I had to will myself to not cry when my principal was talking to me about how I handled a situation last year. He wasn’t even angry or yelling at me but I had to keep willing myself to not let the tears fall. “Trish. You cannot cry. You are an adult.” So I managed to not cry…until he left the room. Then I sobbed. This tender heart causes me to cry each time I open it up a little in spiritual direction. I plan to high-5 Father the first time I manage to walk out of there without having shed tears. This tender heart causes me to long for Heaven as though I have been homesick my entire life.
Recently a man who had worked with my dad died due to brain cancer. He kept a blog about the journey he was making with the cancer. Instead of becoming bitter and cynical or blaming God, he called his cancer “the gift.” I didn’t really know him, but I loved seeing him at the different Masses around town. As I read through some of his blog entries, I cried. He writes about how he sees God each day and encouraged people to look for God wherever they were. I think of the family he leaves behind and I mourn for them. Yet I also think (though I don’t intend to minimize their pain) about what a gift all of it actually could be for them. To know that you will be dying and soon. It would make me live each day to the full.
But shouldn’t I already be doing that? Why is it that the fear of death suddenly makes us desire to live? St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” I want to be fully alive. Sometimes it takes a sunset to wake me from my stupor. Or the feeling of holding a beautiful niece in my arms as she squirms and smiles. Every now and then I am just struck by reality–the grass is really green or the sky seems so clear. Suddenly I can see and I realize how blind I let myself become
Lord, help me to embrace this tender heart. This heart that causes tears to well up in my eyes at inconvenient times and yet allows me to see a beauty that is perhaps overlooked. Above all, help me to place my tender heart within the wound of Your Sacred Heart. Only there is it truly safe, only there can she find rest. Thank You, Lord, for this gift called life—the challenges, the heartaches, the joys, the blessings, the experiences of You that reaffirm that all of this has a purpose. Thank You, Lord. Amen.