With the pandemic & its disturbing death toll & the shut downs & the social isolation & tragic reminders of racial injustice in our nation & protests & confusion over how best to address injustice & post-election battles & increasing conflicts in our country, 2020 has been a sorrowful year! 2021 is arriving with the beginning of vaccinations and with a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. This causes me to pause and to consider: What are my hopes for our country and our community in the New Year?
If I could boil my hopes down to one word, I would say that my greatest hope and prayer for our country at this time is that we will have heart.
But that one word—heart—is multifaceted.
In his book Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker Palmer points out, “‘Heart’ comes from the Latin cor and points not merely to our emotions but to the core of the self, that center place where all of our ways of knowing converge—intellectual, emotional, sensory, intuitive, imaginative, experiential, relational, and bodily, among others. The heart is where we integrate what we know in our minds with what we know in our bones, the place where our knowledge can become more fully human.”
My hope and my prayer is that a heart for (a care for) our nation and for one another will be at the core of who we are, that such care will be what integrates us and ties us together.
Palmer adds, “Cor is also the Latin root from which we get the word courage. When all that we understand of self and world comes together in the center place called the heart, we are more likely to find the courage to act humanely on what we know.”
My hope and my prayer is that we will have a heart that is courageous enough to pursue what is compassionate and to stand for what is right.
With all that we have been through, many people’s hearts have been crushed. Parker Palmer writes, “During the Civil War, traumatized combatants developed a condition that they called ‘soldier’s heart.’ The violence that results in soldier’s heart shatters a person’s sense of self and community, and war is not the only setting in which violence is done: violence is done whenever we violate another’s integrity. Thus we do violence in politics when we demonize the opposition or ignore urgent human needs in favor of politically expedient decisions.”
My hope and my prayer is that we will act with compassion toward all who are struggling with “soldier’s heart,” or who are worn down by ‘COVID fatigue,’ or whose hearts have been crushed in other ways.
A broken heart is not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on whether a heart breaks apart or whether it breaks open. Parker Palmer comments, “What happens next in you and the world around you depends on how your heart breaks. If it breaks apart into a thousand pieces, the result may be anger, depression, and disengagement. If it breaks open into greater capacity to hold the complexities and contradictions of human experience, the result may be new life.”
My hope and my prayer for our nation is that our hearts will break open into greater capacity to feel with those who are hurting and to care for one another. ♣