“Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.” [Prov. 4:23]
The above quotation is from the ancient book of wisdom contained in the Hebrew scriptures, said to be penned by King Solomon, known as the wisest man of his day. (That label makes me smile since he had several wives and hundreds of concubines, which sounds like a predictable lot of trouble!)
But I digress.
‘The heart’ is the subject today, both literal and figurative. Why? You may have already guessed, since the whole month of February is deemed, American Heart Month, after the US President Johnson declaration in 1963.
What would Miss Nightingale say about the heart? She actually had quite a lot of thoughts on the subject. Regarding the perennial jousting within her society (then as now!), arguments about what is “suitable women’s work,” she advised to ‘Oh, leave these jargons, and go your way straight to God’s work, in simplicity and singleness of heart.” I think she would like one of my favorite songs “Love in Any Language,” which includes these lyrics:
Love in any language, straight from the heart
Pulls us all together, never apart
And once we learn to speak it, all the world will hear
Love in any language, fluently spoken here.
So, aside from WEAR RED, how should or COULD we celebrate Heart Month?
In the larger community, a donation to the American Heart Association for scientific research around the problem is always a good start. (No, they didn’t pay me to say that!) If you wonder how your donation benefits society and YOU, consider these research milestones:
-1950’s- intricate blood flow map created; oxygen demand linked to blood flow- without the map, the course of treatment is unclear!
-1960’s- effective bystander CPR created; heart surgery using tiny microscopes translates into many other forms of advanced surgical treatments; saturated fats research changes dietary recommendations; MRI developed; corrective heart surgery for newborns begun; 20 year study on hypertension and life expectancy; lobbied to legislate cigarette ads banned on radio and TV…
…And on and ON goes the list of scientific breakthroughs that impact ALL of us.
Valentine’s Day is an example of one way we celebrate the figurative heart. Aside from giving material gifts to show your appreciation and /or romantic love, consider volunteering your time in service to another. Start listening to folks in your circle. What do they need? Everyone seems to need money, but many of us cannot afford to give that way. (Or, we don’t know who to trust with our monetary gifts.) The answer to your question may surprise you, but you must ask!
Still stumped? Here are five more ideas to get you started:
• Does a friend/neighbor have a medical appointment? Do they need a ride? Or, perhaps, someone to go with them and function as another pair of listening ears? To take notes and ask pertinent questions?
• How about bringing a lonely friend or acquaintance out shopping for groceries? Or to a movie? To watch your kids’ dance recital? Name an activity…There are SO many possibilities!
• Who could use a visit —-just for fun—-because they are housebound or rarely get out. You bring the treats. Their choice. Better yet, pick them up, take them to your place for a meal or tea.
• Why not gather up some of those hotel shampoos and other small personal items, put them in a colorful bag with a coupon for fast-food, and give it to a homeless person. Introduce yourself. Ask their name. Look them in the eye. Give them the dignity of your attention, if only for a few minutes. It’s a start.
• It’s winter, so why not go through your warm coats and donate some that are gently used? (You know you have too many!) Or keep one in your car and stop when you see a person who could use it.
You can make it your intention to do a kindness to ONE person on Valentines Day…and see where that goes. After all, against kindness, there is no law!
Happy Heart Month,
PS – The Nightingale show tour began in Missouri in November. Since then, the 2020 calendar includes the Lady of the Lamp traversing the US (and perhaps other countries). Some dates are still available, so if your organization or conference would like to see Nightingale up-close-and-personal, take a look at the testimonials and video clips and email me and info@PMIarts.com
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