breaking news

Gov. Abbott to kick off 3 days of gun discussions Tuesday

Finding the light to open our hearts

Let’s face it. For the most part it’s all about me — my pleasure, my pain, my wants, my world. We are driven by self, security and success. The true saints who care for children and for ill or aging family members with devotion have moved out of the ego circle by accepting their role. Their hearts are opened even when flooded by fatigue or frustration.

For the rest of us, including those whose hearts seem to have turned to stone, tiny cracks can appear that let light in and change who we are. I had the opportunity to see this transformation some years ago, and it was breathtakingly beautiful.

With a zany idea to host a spontaneous birthday party for the homeless folks who hang out in the alley between the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (the ARCH) and the Salvation Army (the Sally), I set to work. Because I was the head of a school, I had access to young artists, so I asked students in first through fifth grades to make a birthday card for someone they did not know. What an array of drawings and birthday wishes I received — balloons, hearts, rainbows, and sweet words — “I hope you have a good day”; “Happy, Happy, Birthday to a special friend”; and “You are loved.” I put these better-than-Hallmark cards in a white wicker basket to distribute.

Birthday parties need more than cards, so I bought old fashioned Dixie cups that come with little flat spoons and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and birthday cupcakes. When I arrived at the entrance to the alley, my homeless friend met me. She took over the ice cream delivery from her wheelchair. My job was cupcakes. Balancing the bakery boxes carefully, I scanned the crowd looking for another helper. The perfect birthday party assistant appeared, asking, “May I help you?” He was joyful, high on life aided by some chemicals I suspect, but it didn’t matter. Personifying the spirit of giving, he danced through the crowd with the wicker basket on his arm handing out birthday cards.

Within five minutes, there was an amazing change in the atmosphere of the alley. Here, where there is usually depression, anger, isolation, shouting and sometimes fights, peace reigned.

As the folks began to sense the spontaneous goodness of a birthday party just for them and looked at their cards, conversation flowed. I overheard, “My birthday is in September, when is yours?”; “Oh, let me see your card?”; “Look at this greeting to me!” A few even offered constructive criticism: “Birdday isn’t spelled right” and “This child need more practice in penmanship,” but the comments were laced with love.

This strange island of calm continued. Small waves of goodwill washed over everyone, and hearts of stone began to show cracks — light entering from ice cream and cupcakes, but mostly from children’s unexpected caring hearts.

This is how God creates in us a new heart. We build hearts of stone, layer upon layer, believing we are forgotten, unworthy and unloved. Then we are cracked open in the most unforeseen ways. It is different for each one of us and astonishing every time it happens.

Miraculously, cracks continue to appear. Feeling awestruck when holding a newborn baby or animal that causes a lump in our throats, creates a crack. Seeing a spectacular sunset or hearing a haunting melody that catches us unaware and moved, creates a crack. Receiving an unexpected kindness when suffering that leaves us teary, creates a crack. And discovering that there’s a surprise birthday party in an alley for you, a homeless person, creates a crack.

I will skip sending Valentine cards this year and just open my heart with layers and layers of love — to the tantruming toddler in the grocery line, to the old person in front of me fumbling for a bus pass, and to the gaggle of teens careening past me in the mall — to everyone in my path.

Real love unleashed.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. — Ezekiel 36: 26

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Lifestyle

New veterinary office’s viewing window takes mystery out of treatment
New veterinary office’s viewing window takes mystery out of treatment

You take your dog or cat to the vet. The technician needs to draw some blood, clip some nails, check a temperature. Your animal is then taken to the mysterious back. Your pet is returned to you minutes later. What just happened? You’ll never really know. Or your dog needs a good dental cleaning or a minor surgery. That all happens out of view...
Why are many kids not getting diagnosed with autism before age 2? New study has some answers
Why are many kids not getting diagnosed with autism before age 2? New study has some answers

Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study done in Norway that might shed some light into why many kids are given a false-negative diagnosis for autism at 18 months. Dylan Flint, 7, and Liesa Randel get their boarding passes for the Wings for All flight for children with autism to practice going through...
That hotel pool could make you sick this summer, CDC study finds
That hotel pool could make you sick this summer, CDC study finds

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this bit of information last week: 1 in 3 waterborne disease outbreaks traced happen in hotel pools or hot tubs. There have been about 500 waterborne disease outbreaks from 2000 to 2014. In addition to hotel pools and hot tubs, water parks have also been to blame. Diseases include...
Aimovig: New migraine prevention drug approved by FDA
Aimovig: New migraine prevention drug approved by FDA

If you suffer from chronic migraines, relief is here. According to The Associated Press, the Food and Drug Administration last week approved Aimovig, a monthly shot that aims to reduce migraines. The drug, developed by Amgen Inc. and Novartis AG, is "injected monthly just under the skin using a pen-like device," the AP reported. Its...
Today’s horoscopes - Sunday, May 20

ARIES (March 21-April 19). You depend on others for many of your needs, but you don’t necessarily stop and wonder what goes into producing the results. Today changes that, as you’ll find out exactly what you’re buying, how it’s made and more. TAURUS (April 20-May 20). Control your destiny by consciously taking responsibility...
More Stories