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I Carry It In My Heart




I spent hours trying to figure out what to write about love—the romantic love of Valentine’s Day, and the spiritual Love of God. Since Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day occurred on the same date this week, it seemed perfect for this reflection.

 

But everything I wrote seemed inadequate, or clichéd, or just not very interesting.

 

So I gave up.

 

And then I turned to what I know. Get ready, because I’m about to go all English teacher on you.

 

I turned to a love poem by E.E. Cummings that—if read through a certain lens—describes the depth of love and devotion not only between human beings, but also between God and us.

 

I need to be clear: Cummings was not a Christian. His father was a Unitarian pastor, a faith tradition that emphasizes the oneness of God and all created things (but does not believe in the Trinity or Jesus as Messiah). Later in life, he also drew heavily upon the Transcendentalist philosophy, which celebrates the reality of God in both humanity and nature—again, not Trinitarian.

 

So, though he was deeply spiritual, the God of Cummings’s belief system is not the God of the cross and resurrection.

 

That said, please read this poem carefully. And you may need to read it more than once! Cummings uses words, capitalization, spacing and punctuation in unusual ways. It might help to read it out loud.

 

i carry your heart with me

 

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

                and whatever a sun will always sing is you

 

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

 

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

 

Of course, this is a poem to someone he loves, whom he addresses as my dear, my darling, my sweet, and my true. But…though it might make you and me feel uncomfortable to use those terms of endearment to refer to God, many poets and mystics throughout time have done just that. They use them to describe a love so deep, so intimate and so personal, a profound sense of connectedness to God, and especially to Jesus. (If you’d like to know more about that, google Teresa of Avila or Gerard Manley Hopkins.)

 

The image of carrying a heart within our hearts is so beautiful, and applies perfectly to that deep connection. Robert Stackpole (Doctor of Sacred Theology) writes that the Bible often refers to the heart as “the core of who we really are—what we really think and love, and therefore what we are most committed to, deep down.”

 

Consider Jeremiah 31:33, for example, where God speaks to the people through the prophet: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. It’s hard to imagine a deeper connection.

 

If we read the poem without the terms of affection, it’s easier to think of it as descriptive of the love of God. For example, anywhere i go you go; and whatever is done by only me is your doing. And that final stanza: “a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide”…well, for me it describes perfectly the hope to which we are called.

 

So…I found my connection. The love expressed in valentines can be beautiful, as is the love expressed in the hearts of believers in Jesus Christ.  As we enter the season of Lent, a time to contemplate our own mortality and the glory of the empty tomb, may we carry his sacred heart within ours.

 

Blessings,



Lou Ann

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