I sometimes use a heavy clay pot as a doorstop. A pot full of hearts.
“Hey, Nana, here’s another one!” The grandbeans offer their outstretched hands, fingers curled around the latest treasure. A heart of stone. Another one for our collection. We’ve found them on walks, the children and I, sometimes strolling alone, sometimes together. Around town, along gravel lanes, here and there on lake and countryside jaunts. Heart-shaped rocks. Some are rough, with jagged edges. Some are bumpy. Some look marbled, some speckled, like granite. Others are plain grey. Brown. Black.
Imagination helps when looking at a few of the rocks; a little squinting and inspection of their edges to find the shape. But when it shows up, you wonder how you didn’t see it instantly.
On one of our walks along a dirt path, our eldest granddaughter, Tabatha, spotted a small but unusual rock partially embedded in the soil. “Look, Nana, it’s a PINK rock!”
We bent to unearth the stone from the tight grip of the earth. The more we scratched and scraped, the larger the rock seemed. Finally, using a stout stick, we managed to dig it out. Once free, we exclaimed over its colour and distinctive marbling. Best of all, a crack separated the stone in two halves that interlocked perfectly. When opened and placed side by side, though, the two parts formed an unmistakeable heart.
“It’s a grandmother, granddaughter heart,” we decided. “I can keep this half,” she said, “and you get the other one!” To remember each other forever, she said. (As though I needed the reminder.)
Her mother decided, having younger potential rock-tossers in the house, that it would be best if both halves remained in Nana’s clay heart pot, and there it waits. One day, she’ll take her half, and maybe mine too. They belong together, as surely as our own hearts are entwined in ways understood only by grandparents and grandchildren.
The Bible contains its own heart collection, one formed of descriptive words. Hard, soft, stony, meditative, cold, thoughtful, grateful, pure, wicked, troubled, peaceful, strong and more. When I look over my collection of rock hearts, I think of that other collection, and how it relates to what we so often call the human heart – our mind, will and emotions. How many of those same words, I realize, could be used to describe me at various times through life.
As I hold that largest heart, that beautiful, pink broken heart, I remember the most important heart of all: God’s great heart, like a parent’s, often broken by his rebellious children, hardened by their repeated rejection; yearning for our turning, softened by our repentance, and open again and again to welcome us with forgiveness and grace. A heart forever connected to the world he created, the creation he loved so much he sent his Son to redeem it.
I’ll keep my collection awhile. Like many natural things, it’s good for the heart.