All Issues Are Issues of the Heart
Jan 30, 2020 11:47PM
● By Annalise Combs
I must admit, it took me a minute to connect the dots as to why February is known as heart health month, as well as Valentine’s Day month. Then I was driven to find out which designation came first. A quick consultation with my best friend Google reportedValentine’s Day by a long shot. It was created in 496, when the Christian church turned an ancient Roman festival into a celebration of St. Valentine, a Roman priest who was sentenced to death for marrying people against the edicts of the emperor and who, on the day of his death, February 14, wrote a jailhouse letter to his love signed, “from your Valentine.”
How simple, yet fitting and natural, that love and the heart have become nearly synonymous. Fitting and natural because our instruction manual, the Bible, uses the word heart primarily to refer to the ruling center of the whole person, the wellspring of all desires. Easton’s Bible Dictionary calls the heart “the home of the personal life”—the center of affection and love. Hence, God knows a man by his heart. It’s an amazing testament to our Creator’s omniscience that the biology of the heart reflects its spiritual and emotional characteristics as the physical center of our bodies, the regulator of our circulatory system and the source of our well-being.
This brings us to the perennial debate: which should we listen to and act upon—the heart or the head? I think it’s the heart, which is informed by the mind in its guidance, just as we can possess knowledge, but still gain wisdom by applying that knowledge. Because our heart is the major determinant of how we apply the knowledge that’s stored in the brain, ultimately all issues are issues of the heart. Our decisions, our responses, our words and our actions, more so now than ever, must be informed by and rooted in love, compassion and courage.
Love is the greatest of all virtues, compassion acknowledges our common humanity and courage empowers us to act in a loving, compassionate way. As Scarlett Lewis, mother of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, explains in her article “Choosing Love,” love is a choice. We can learn to choose love as a thoughtful response to any issue, and it starts with the courage to make that choice. We all have the capacity for the courage to be kind, courage to be thoughtful, courage to speak our truth and courage to do the right thing.
So let’s commit to making this world a better place by always striving to do the right thing. And when we get it wrong for some reason, we can do the next right thing—for our health, for our loved ones and for the planet.
For all its focus on love and heart wisdom, this month’s Natural Awakenings also focuses on literal matters of the heart—the one that keeps us physically alive and well. In “Sacred Vessels: The Lifeblood of Heart Health,” Julie Peterson examines the crucial role of the vascular system and how simple, natural lifestyle choices can prevent or remediate damage that may result in a heart attack, stroke, vision loss and cognitive decline. Our local expert,Baylor Heart Hospital, weighs in on the subjects of preventive measures and ditching an obligatory daily aspirin.
This month’s issue is chock-full of practical, timely information that’s easy to grasp and use on your journey to a greener, healthier life on a healthy planet. Enjoy!
Until next month, blessings.