Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Complex Heart

Often the core, key or essential part of an experience or situation is referred to as the “heart of the matter”. The heart is essential to the human body and its functioning. Yet the heart is more than a symbol of importance and functionality; the heart often symbolizes emotion, love, tenderness and compassion. References to the heart happen often throughout the chapters of the Book of Mormon. The word “heart” is mentioned 158 times and attached to multiple phrases within the book. Forms and variations of “imaginations of the heart” are found five times, “hardening of hearts” found twenty three times, “softening of hearts” found eight times”, “pride of their hearts” found thirteen times and “broken heart” found eight times. Obviously, the heart is capable of a lot; breaking, imagining, hardening and softening. In these contexts, the heart represents a compassionate person, a humble beggar, a prideful murmurer and others. The Book of Mormon writers use this complex symbol for this reason; the heart is capable of much greatness. The heart is a life source, pumping blood to every dependent part of the body; it is our lifeline to mortality, to humanity. Yet, the heart is also a pair of scissors to said lifeline. When the hearts stop beating so does mortality's pulsation and life leaves the occupant. However, the heart represents more than a physical life but a spiritual life as well. The symbol of the heart represents a compassionate, righteous life when it is softened but represents sin and pride when hardened.

 Nephi promises blessing to those who avoid such a hardening. In 1 Nephi 14 he writes "And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles...harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God...they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever" and he continues in chapter 15 to say "If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you". So though the heart can stop the flow of blood and metaphorically the flow of truth, the heart's most critical and beautiful job is softening.

The phrases "burning of the bosom" or "swelling of the heart" aren't strictly metaphorical; anyone who has experienced moments of wonderful emotion or intense, emotional pain has felt this. Emotion is physically felt in the heart for the heart is more than an organ but a threshold for deep feeling. I have the experienced forms and variations the Book of Mormon attaches to the heart. My heart has felt hardened toward truth, my heart has softened toward my fellow men, my heart has been filled with vain pride and my heart has presented itself to God, broken and discouraged. Luckily, God accepts us wholeheartedly and I am thankful for that. And I am thankful for my heart and all it can do.

1 comment:

  1. I like all the different ideas you presented here. I think you touched on a lot of important functions of the heart and why it is such an apt symbol for the Book of Mormon.