February is Heart Month and if there’s anything that deserves recognition, it’s this little heart-shaped miracle beating inside our chests. Of course, I know it’s not heart shaped—I watch television—but today it’s more important than ever to take care of our hearts, both literally and physically.
Put a Little Love in Your Heart, this 1960s Jackie DeShannon classic, came to mind while watching the news last night and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Heart Month’s double meaning is a poignant reminder to stop, look, and pay attention—to our ticker and our relationships.
Sunday morning during our online worship service, one of our young teachers shared a story that left us all weepy. She said her second grade class had recently attended the annual book fair that most schools host at least once a year. Unfortunately, all the children didn’t have money to buy books.
She said one child looked longingly at a book he wanted but didn’t have money for. She said one of his 7-year-old classmates bought the $10 book for him and one for himself so they could both enjoy reading. She said it warmed her heart and renewed her hope in the future.
Her story prompted me to think that as an outgrowth of this thoughtful child’s generosity, perhaps some of us could visit our local elementary schools and leave book fair funding for children who love to read but can’t afford to buy a book. I suspect we could honor or memorialize our loved ones in this meaningful way.
Written by DeShannon, Randy Myers, and Jimmy Holliday, the lyrics remind us to “think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand, put a little love in your heart,” and “please don’t hesitate.” As people of goodwill and justice, we can let the world know we won’t let hatred grow because our actions are driven by love.
Love is a funny thing. It mends broken hearts, softens hard hearts, transforms, and touches bitter hearts—and in every instance, hearts are the common denominator. With that said, nothing else is as important as good heart care—which brings me to the other side of the coin, taking care of this life-giving organ.
Whether your heart is healthy, enlarged, congested—any number of ways it can be, the heart does your spirit control, so my favorite hymn touts. Things that matter—spending time with family and friends, enjoying work and leisure, admiring rainbows and sunsets—all these things require heart/a heart.
A vegetable-rich diet, plenty of water, and consistent exercise are fuel, the literal heartbeat of our lives, and they top the list of good heart care. Reducing stress and stressors go in the third slot, followed by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding conditions like hypertension and diabetes (these deadly cousins are sneaky and are always looking for a free ride).
Keeping our heart happy can leave us around long enough to reminisce and tell way-back-when stories.
Whether you’re celebrating Heart Month all year or making a pledge this month to love more, be and do more intentionally to lift your neighbors and meet the needs your heart finds, now is the right time to do the right thing for the right reasons. Proverbs 17:22 got it right: “A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine (King James Version).
A merry heart is like a salve…let’s slather it on generously and make the world a better place. For you, and me…
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