Waking, at half-past six, as the sleepy world roused from her slumber, I set out on my morning walk. Leaves and branches rustled in the early morning breeze. Birds, hidden from view, high atop the trees, sang their greeting to the new day. A frog, out by the pond where the ducks swim, lent his deep voice to the morning. I stopped to take it all in.
What are the trees and animals talking about? I wondered.
“They are talking about the new day,” God said. “They are talking about life.”
Once again, I started out, strolling through God’s creation, listening carefully to the sounds of the morning. When my legs grew tired from the hilly terrain, I sat down on an old tree stump to rest. Surrounded by the symphony of nature, it dawned on me what the trees and the animals weren’t talking about.
The trees weren’t judging other trees. The birds weren’t gossiping about other birds. Nor were the frogs, or any other living thing. They were too busy intent on being what God created them to be. Too busy being full of life.
I walked home slowly, praying that I can remember to talk about life, instead of talking about others.
“If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
The phone rang early this morning. It was my friend Peggy. She said, “I want what you have.”
“A bad cold?” I sniffled.
“No, I want the relationship you have with God,” she explained.
“Ah, that.” I blew my nose into a crumpled up Kleenex.
“What do I have to do to be as close to God as you seem to be?”
“Talk to Him like you would a dear friend—someone you trust—someone who knows you intimately,” I said.
“You mean like a real conversation?” She sounded skeptical.
“Absolutely! Tell Him about your day. Ask Him about His. Listen. Listen a lot,” I suggested.
“How do you know what God says to you?” Peggy wanted to know.
“I get a knowing in my gut—my heart—like God has placed knowledge inside of me. I also hear His words in my head, especially when I am writing my Soul Reminders. Sometimes I feel that the Holy Spirit moves my fingers on the keyboard. I’m often surprised at what I’ve written!” I said.
I pulled the receiver away from my face and sneezed. “Ahhh-chooooooo!”
“Bless you!” Peggy said.
I laughed. “Thank you! God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams! He wants to give you the same blessings. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. He won’t let you down, I promise.”
God won’t let you down either. If you long for a closer relationship with Him, reach out. Talk. Listen. Listen a lot! And above all else, keep your heart open. That’s how God gets in!
Love does no harm.
I tossed and turned for hours. An ache in my leg kept me awake. Finally, I got out of bed and snapped on the light to see what was the matter. An angry purple bruise stared back at me. When did I bump my leg? For the life of me, I couldn’t recall. But there was the evidence, growing uglier by the minute. I got back into bed and did my best to settle down.
“It’s easy to hurt others in the same way,” God said.
“You mean to bruise them?” I asked, a bit confused.
“It’s easy to hurt others and not be aware that you’ve hurt them, just as you can’t recall how you hurt your leg. People’s emotions are tender,” He explained.
“I’ll do my best to remember that,” I answered. I rubbed my leg and hoped that there were not too many people rubbing their hearts because of me.
Off in the distance, a freight train’s lonesome whistle reminded me of the hour. I closed my eyes, asked God to forgive me for any harm I’d caused to any of His children, and drifted off to sleep.
Pray for your enemies.
God, bless those whose words or actions are intended to harm me in some way. Help me to understand why they feel the way that they do. Do I have any role in their ill-will?
Help me, please, to not be afraid of my shortcomings. Help me to not be afraid of people’s disappointment in me or their anger. Help me to be able to stand before them and to hear their side of the story without becoming defensive. Instead, let me become teachable, curious about how I might do better at communicating or behaving.
Let not fear grow within my heart, giving rise to anger and hatred within myself, but rather may I always be reminded that forgiveness is the ultimate form of compassion. May I extend it others, and to myself, for we are all imperfect. We are all works in progress.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
I leaned over in the garden and picked up the broken pieces. They were scattered all around me. When I finally gathered all of the pieces in one place, I stared at them. How was I going to put them back together again? Like Humpty Dumpty, they looked beyond repair. The terra cotta pot I had dropped had broken into a million little pieces. Just like my heart, I thought to myself.
“God, I’ve been here before,” I prayed. “I’ve known heartbreak many times. Each time, I think I won’t survive it—that there is no way I’ll put the pieces back together again.”
“I know, Sparrow,” God said as He put His hand on my shoulder to comfort me. “I know.”
I didn’t fight the tears that fell as I walked the broken pot to the garbage can. When I lifted the lid, I wished I could throw my heart away, too, so that it would never hurt again.
“Your heart will go on,” God assured me.
I giggled in spite of my tears. “You’ve been watching Titanic again, haven’t you?” I smiled and wiped my nose on my sleeve.
I’m pretty sure God smiled back. “Why don’t you talk to your heart?” He asked me.
“Okay, I’ll do that. ‘Heart, what’s all this breaking into pieces stuff about?'”
I swear, my heart answered me and said, “I have to break in order to open.” I was stunned!
God patted me on my head like I was a little child. “See?” He said. “Your heart is smarter than you think. And stronger than you know.”
I walked back to the garden and sat down and pondered the wisdom of my heart. It has to break in order to open. In that instant, I could hear the birds singing on the wire above me. I felt the sun with her soft winter’s touch. I heard the leaves of the magnolia tree rustling on the breeze. And I knew. Yes, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that my heart would go on.