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The Tablet of Your Heart

October 2015

by Michael O’Brien

The one who holds my heart and I were down south for a wedding last weekend. It was a rainy drive there and back---grey sky, and a misty kind of light filled the landscape softening the cool colors of the trees and intensifying the warmer colors of the grasses that were coming back to life after the three-day soaking.

At the wedding, the celebrant, a grandfather of the groom, read a passage, and for some reason his words, “the tablet of your heart” struck a chord. The words were, “Write this on the tablet of your heart.”

I could picture it. A stone tablet, a permanent record, that each of us holds deep within us and written in stone those words that mean the most to us. The celebrant read, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” It’s all from the book of Proverbsg.  I’d read it before, but hearing him say it, in the silent church, with the bride and groom looking deeply at each other, it made me think. What words are on the tablet of my heart?

His recommendation, “kindness, truth,” are a good start. It wasn’t until I started life again and gave my heart to the one who holds my heart, that I experienced kindness every day. It’s odd to say, but true, she does things for me, for others, just out of thoughtfulness, out of kindness. We all should have some of this each day, and of course, you can’t repay kindness with a gift card; you can only repay it with a payment in kind…a kindness.

The dictionary says kindness is a quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Acts that in our polarized political landscape are not really valued. Watching the news, listening to the rhetoric (even spouting some from time to time), one can understand that it’s hard to be kind and courteous when railing on and on about something or someone. I get reminded that to be kind, considerate, or generous one has to step back from the heat of the moment, look at the people around you and think, “Wouldn’t they feel better with a cold glass of water right now?”

Well its not always water---sometimes its chocolate or an unexpected gift or a hand to hold.

The tablet of one’s heart is hard to read. We don’t often look that deeply inside, partly because it’s hard to do, partly because the tablet has some not so nice things on it. It’s part of being human: we can’t always be the best of ourselves. But when we’re not being the best of ourselves, maybe thinking of the tablet and what’s being etched on it just then might help us step back, take a breath, and shine a light on the words we want to represent us, kindness, honesty, humility….

I used to have a daydream where the Cubs won the World Series. It was with the 1969 team, Banks, Beckert, Kessinger, Santo, as the infield, Jenkins and Hundley as the battery, Williams, Phillips and Hickman as the outfield. It was only a daydream, but that team---it was pretty humble, no superstars, just hardworking team players.

I thought once I’d make a logo of the logos that I’d hope had made me. That Cubs team, the driver of the number 6 in Trans Am, a driver/engineer named Mark Donahue, Dad’s company logo, the North Dakota State Flag, Virginia Tech’s logo, a collection like that. Some way to remind myself, work hard, be kind, contribute to the team, “us” first not “me” first….  Things I aspire to but don’t always live up to. Maybe those things are on my tablet.

Anyway, the rain is gone for a few days, the air is cool-ish (low 70’s!), and it’s a good day to take a moment or two, breathe the air, look around, and see what could be done to make it a little better.

Be good to each other, be kind to each other, read your tablet!