Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Heart Capacity

How much space do you have in your heart? We talk in my CrossFit world about work capacity, how much can you move how far or how fast, but today I’m wondering about the capacity to extend your heart to others. Let me tell you a story.

Some 40 years ago a young man was struck by a car and suffered a concussion. While he was hospitalized his mother became ill and died in another hospital. For reasons too complex to share here, the young man’s father was not capable of raising the boy and his older brother so they were taken in by their uncle, the mother’s brother, his wife and 3 kids.

A little extra room in that house, but not really enough. Ditto for money. What they did have enough of it turns out was room in their hearts for two boys suddenly without a family. Room it turns out to treat the nephews as if they were their own children. They sent all 5 children to college, and if memory serves all 5 have graduate degrees. All supported by a couple who found that they had enough room in their hearts to find a way to make enough room everywhere else.

Fast forward 30 years or so from that fateful day in the hospital. The brothers are sitting with the only parents they have (sadly, the father also died long ago), celebrating the first day of school for a son. This family cherished learning, and each year the first day of school for the next generation was a time for all to gather. For whatever reason the aunt and uncle who took the brothers were reflective that morning. ¬†They ¬†said they had but one regret, that they had not formally adopted the boys when they took them in. The boys, now men, had clearly learned the lesson of the untapped capacity in one’s heart. At age 40 and 45 and with the blessings of their cousins, they arranged to be adopted by the uncle and aunt who found room everywhere else when it was clear they already had room in their hearts. A next generation now officially had grandparents.

The announcement for the adoptions were extraordinary. I won’t do the memory justice, but they read something like this: “The Honorable Judge and Mrs. _ wish to announce the arrival of their sons on this very blessed day in 2004. Lawrence M, 5’9″ and 185 pounds and his brother Mark 5’8″ and 185 pounds officially became a part of the ___ family today. Please join us in celebrating our joy.”

Each and every day we learn that our physical boundaries are artificial, self-made restrictions on our capacity. Indeed, the more we expand our physical capacities the more unbounded they seem to become. The lesson in my friend’s story, I’m sure, is that we have a similarly broad and probably untapped capacity in our hearts for love. Like that aunt and uncle, each of us has more room in our hearts than we imagine, just waiting, like our broad fitness capacity, for that time when it is needed.

With that much untapped capacity in our hearts I’m sure that somehow we, like that uncle and aunt so long ago, would find enough room for everything else.

 

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