In the days following Mom's death, grief was a physical presence. It stuck in my bones, made my head foggy and clouded my eyes. Then planted itself firmly in the center of my chest. A sorrow so immense flooded my heart that I wasn't sure I would survive it. I still remember the searing pain and the ache of a stretch I thought I could not bear.
Over time the waves of grief have subsided and sadness trickles out bit by bit. My heart is now soft; broken-in and aged by this process. This once new and tidy heart is replaced with a bigger, doughier version. The stretching that was so very painful has given me a heart with more room. More room for sadness, yes. Also more room for joy. As anguish recedes, beauty can now seep in. And the chambers of my broken-in heart can hold more of everything than they could before. There is room for the painful memories. And there is room for so much more love than I ever imagined.
I love more, because I have lost.
I laugh more, because I have cried.
I notice more, because of my pain.
I feel a profound joy, as intense as my grief.
I think this is what it means to have a broken heart. A broken-in heart. One more capable of love than it was before. One that is big enough to receive all the joy and pain there is in life. One that has learned how to mourn and thus learned how to live.
When Christ said that we must have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, perhaps He was telling us of the process we would all undergo to have our hearts broken-in. Only then could they be big enough to receive all that life has to fill them with.
After so many tears, so much pain, so much stretching - I feel myself ready to receive. May my broken-in heart hold an abundance of beautiful things and may it always be a soft place for others to land. Amen.