A Lost Heart Finds Home

I’m a very sensitive person, indeed, I’ve often been told I am too sensitive, over sensitive. That I feel things too deeply. I don’t believe that’s true or even makes sense. I am empathic and I see this as a good thing, even though it can be very painful. I can imagine how another person with a different viewpoint might feel, yet also understand I am only seeing their experience through a glass darkly, trying to sense their pain with gentleness, awareness, non-judgement, and love.

Since I am chronically ill that love usually takes the form of intercession, and though I’ve spent my nearly forty years as a Christian being in various Protestant denominations, it is in praying the Rosary that I now feel those requests are most blessed and whole.

Maybe even where I am stuck, mostly bedbound and silent . . .

Those who feel like hearts in the Church are often the small, the sick, the ones with no ability or physical strength to carry out the work of hands and feet. The ones too, who, like me, feel unseen by the wider Church. I have only tenuous contacts now with organized Christianity, which grieves me very much. I feel because I am so unwell, immobile, and unable to attend Church (even virtually it is too much for my exhausted brain, which struggles to process audio-visual content) that I am invisible, forgotten, lost. But perhaps this is not entirely the case.

. . . there is some kind of miracle happening that lets me be a part of Christ’s beautiful bride.

Maybe even where I am stuck, mostly bedbound and silent, there is some kind of miracle happening that lets me be a part of Christ’s beautiful bride.

Hearts are usually at the center of an organism, beating the rhythm for the rest of the body to follow, sending out oxygenated blood to fuel its systems and feed its healthy functioning. But if the Church is truly the Body of Christ, it bucks this trend. Its heart is broken, often cast out of the very body it is serving. The lifeblood is spilling out around the edges, the red softness trampled and fragmented. There is a spiral path of pain, a curling Via Dolorosa, snailing its way along a carpet of strewn and discarded rose petals, on the outskirts, on the margins, beyond the reach or notice of the central nervous system guiding all else.

Paul tells us that we are all part of the Body in 1 Corinthians 12, explaining how we all work together in our different interconnected ways. Those of us who feel deeply, who feel cut out and cast away, adrift and bleeding, are still a vital connection. St Thérèse of Lisieux, young and sick with TB was overjoyed whilst studying Paul’s analogy to discover her own calling to be part of the heart of the Church, “In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE!” she wrote.

The shape of this sacred heart that can only crawl around the chalk outline of the crucified Christ is holy, for it is not only cruciform, but stretching out in its cracked and painful cries to a hurting world, the one we are here to tell of salvation.

We are called to love the lost and the lonely, so perhaps we might become them. We are brought down to the level of the darkly desperate, who too lie bleeding, or else how would we hear their cries?

Like dear Thérèse, I may be feeble, but though my health, life, church, and family often seem lost, I have found my vocation and place in the Body of Christ, even if it doesn’t know I exist. I pulse with prayer and drum out the yes, yes, yes, amen of love. The heart empties and fills with the loveblood of the Saviour, over and over. As it counts holy beads, it counts itself deeply blessed to be kin with all the Body of Christ, perhaps as a small candle feels when it is lit from the fire glowing in the Lord’s Sacred Heart.

I know I am nothing like Thérèse, who was so sweet, so innocent, so faithful. God has had to work hard to bring me to face my own smallness. It is this inadequacy that makes me eager to love as she did. I am mediocre at best in all things. But still I give up what I have as heart-shaped petals cast into the air for Mary, for her son, the Christ, and for his bride, the Church. I join a cascade of fellow little-hearts, stuck in our sickbeds, our broken bodies and minds, our crushed souls and confined lives. Together we are found in the One who sees and cares, and in His unforced, heartfelt rhythms of grace.

Image Credit: Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash.

Keren Dibbens-Wyatt
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7 thoughts on “A Lost Heart Finds Home

  1. Dear Keren,
    I am truly humbled by your writing here. I am also convicted for my own arrogance and pride, compared to your truly beautiful and genuine love and grace. I am blessed by knowing you and knowing that you are praying for our poor sick world. Please pray for me too.

    • Jenny, thank you for your kind words and stopping by to read mine. I will absolutely be praying for you. God bless you.

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