Slideshow image

“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

A friend sent me this meme on Ash Wednesday. We had some fun with this image of a heart in place of a cross, but it really struck me. The traditional ash cross symbolizes the paradox of our mortality and the promise of new life now and eternal life held together. It reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. It returns us to God as we remember God’s persistent love that chases after us no matter what. I was tempted to mark ash hearts that evening but followed in the centuries old tradition of marking a cross to remind us of the baptismal promises of forgiveness and new life.

But this image of the heart on our foreheads has not left me. What if this is how we saw every person we encountered? How might we interact with more compassion and kindness with people on a daily basis if we saw this visible reminder of God’s amazing love for each of us? And what if we saw ourselves in the mirror this way? What if we embraced self-compassion, self-love, and peaceful hearts?

So many times we live and act in fear – fear of the unknown, fear of difference, fear of the other. And yet Jesus words to the disciples in their fear in the middle of a storm are for us: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” If we treated each other with that kind of love and peace, if we saw each person with a heart marking God’s love on their foreheads, our world would be a different place. If we saw ourselves the same way, we might take heart and respond to ourselves and others in compassion, peace, and love.

God’s dream of shalom – complete peace between nations, people, and nature - would reign.

May it be so. Pastor Andrea