The Heart and Courage
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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.