The heart of the human being often becomes a rejected treasure that children begin to hide when they do not experience themselves as pursued and affirmed. This common experience is a great sadness. When the heart is experienced as the enemy of the child, then God, too, can become intuitively and improperly feared, distrusted, or given up.
The heart is the center of one’s being. Out of the heart we feel, need, desire, long and hope. These five primary characteristics of heart comprise the core of how we are created. They allow us to grow and connect, imagine and grieve, attach and love. The heart is the origin of our identification with each other and the place from which we become unique. It is the home from which we care and make ourselves known. We experience life through the heart, and through the heart we are created to direct our wills.
The heart is the seat of our emotional constitution, and the home of the universal language that all humans are created to speak. The heart is the place of God’s greatest concern for us. For if we do not live out of our hearts, and if God does not live in our hearts, we are adrift, existing detached from how we are created, who we are created to become, and what we are created to do. Finally, the heart is the birthplace and homestead of courage. We need a great deal of courage to live fully and love deeply in world that is, yes, wonderful, and also tragic.
Having courage and having heart are connected in meaning. The Latin word cor means heart. It is the root word for the English word courage. Cor means the center of one’s person, the essential makeup or heart of a person. We are born with a core, out of which we have courage: full-hearted participation, the complete offering of ourselves to life and living, the full capacity to be “all in”.
We are born offering our core, our hearts, our courage to caregivers, showing our feelings, needs, desire, longings, and hope. We cannot do otherwise. When we are young, we cannot stop ourselves from reaching for connection, showing our neediness, or expressing our dependence. The expression of heart is a need to be fed the food that grows the heart. We don’t develop this core expression of being “all in.” It is inborn. We do, however, have to fight to keep it. We need to be encouraged by connection with trusted others. Encouragement feeds the courage to continually offer our feelings, needs, desire, longings, and hope towards what matters to us in life and God’s process.
We come out of the womb as courageous emotional and spiritual creatures, created to do one thing—live fully. And we cannot live fully unless we do so with others and remain connected to God. Those relationships can nurture the courage to live out of our birthplace, the core of who we are, the heart of how we are created. Courage is a matter of the heart. Without the voice of the heart, the core of who we are being alive within us, the courage to live a life that adds to the living is not realized.
Loneliness speaks to how we are made for relationship. It tells us how incomplete we are without each other. It speaks to the blessing and the pain of sincere connection. We are lonely for time and space with ourselves, to rest, to restore, create, imagine, pray, and to move about.
We are lonely for others, those who we can see into and they into us, allowing us to have the connection of intimacy. Loneliness brings us to the experience of "into-me-see"—intimacy. Intimacy is birthed in the gift of the feeling of loneliness, which pushes us to be known. Good things in this life happen to those who are known from the inside out.
We are also lonely for God, his presence in our lives. We hunger to experience the touch of relationship with God. We are created by God to have a relational experience of God and a life of living as God created. We are image bearers of God, and our need for relationship is an expression of that image bearing.
We are also created with a fourth expression of loneliness and a need for fulfillment that it prompts. We are lonely for expression of our creativity. We are created to have relationship with the earth, to tend, make and create out of it that which connects us to creation and creating. We are made to create as a form of fulfillment.
Far from being our enemy, loneliness prompts us to move from how we are created towards who we are created to become. We are made for relationship. Loneliness is a gift that moves us towards the fulfillment of intimacy with our selves, others, God, and the earth. Good things happen to people who are known, even as we struggle in the midst of pain and difficulties.