Recently I have had many friends that have required heart surgery to repair various issues. It rattled some thoughts in my head and I realized that I never seem to think of all of the mechanisms at work that keep my heart pumping. Beside the obvious and magnificent elements that created such a perfect organ in our bodies, the heart is an amazingly resilient apparatus. I always think of the heart as a feeling rather than an organ, so then I think about all of the emotions that my heart has absorbed and the way it makes me feel.
Each and every person on this planet has felt the wide array of emotions attached to our humanity. We have felt happiness, peace, joy, grief, elation, fear, anger, concern, pride, passion, sorrow, remorse, guilt, agitation, shame, and love. I believe that the heart has the ability to be broken by any and all of these emotions and yet continues to beat. I don’t know what type of physical damage each emotion produces but I do know that Chinese medicine says that fear lives in the kidneys and causes adrenal fatigue, anger affects the liver more than any other organ and grief stores itself in the lungs. The heart/mind connection is way more in depth than I plan on going and I really just want to think about all of the love that resounds in my heart.
This Christmastide reminds me of so many memories of love and of thanksgiving. In the recesses of my mind and heart live memories of family coming from Houston, grandparents coming from Newton, Santa running down the driveway towards the barn while my Grandfather Cleland broke through snow drifts chasing him in his 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood. I later found out that he about killed my other Granddad while for us kids, the fear and awe of actually seeing Santa was more than this kid could stand!! We just knew that his sleigh was in the barn while the reindeer ate some hay and got water for the rest of their magical journey! I remember singing Silent Night in a candle lit church while most of the people around me were so moved by the beauty that tears of humble love rolled down their cheeks. I think that their cheeks and noses were red, not from crying but from the copious amounts of bourbon slush that they had consumed before church! I remember my Mimi’s German Chocolate cake that only she could make, the smell of oyster soup and fresh bread, Jack Daniels and Cold Duck!
Now, the difficulty comes every year and the memories nestle their way into my heart and lungs. I find it hard to breathe during Silent Night in church, I smile when I think of my Grandfathers, who were good friends in life, drinking their cocktails before church, singing loudly and crying during every prayer. I hear my Gram saying, “Cleland, get a hold of yourself!!” I remember that Christmas wasn’t gifts, it was my people. Christmas is still about my people. I am so very thankful for the wonderful childhood memories of those I miss terribly and loved more than anything. I am doing my best to create memorable Christmas memories for my kids, but so much of theirs was wrapped up in my parents and the excitement of Santa banging on the front porch, that now, we all feel the same way about the depth of love and the pain in our hearts. This year will be different though! We have a little boy who loves pretty lights, Christmas trees, and music. I think that Christmas Eve Service will be wonderful with he and Gramps in their kilts!! Then we come home for wine and goodies! That doesn’t mean that memories won’t fall off my cheeks and my heart will have to bounce back again from the longing of the past and the people who filled my heart with joy. Long gone are the days where extended family is anxious to get together for the holidays of any kind and family is split enough that it doesn’t even particularly matter. I suppose that is part of the transition of society. It’s all good. It is just different. We are all so busy trying to survive and take care of the day to day issues that there isn’t much left I suppose.
I am, nonetheless, thankful that the heart is able to hold so much. It can bounce back from disappointment, hurt, emotional turmoil and can be medically repaired to work as good as new! Isn’t that something!? Now to repair the other things!!
“…So dry your glistenin’ e’e, John, My saul langs to be free, John and angels beckon me to the land o’ Leal. Now fare-ye-weel, my ain John, This warld’s cares are are in vain, John, We’ll meet and we’ll be fain in the land o’ the Leal…” Lady Carolina Nairne (1766-1845)
Written in the 1700’s she couldn’t have been more right. The Land O’ Leal means the land of the faithful. Dry your eyes we will all be alright when we get there!
Merry Christmas to you all. Remember the reason for the Season. It is truly an amazing gift.
Until then, listen to your heart….let it beat