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So Much Held in a Heart

So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one, in the end—not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman's second glance, a child's apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words 'I have something to tell you,' a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother's papery ancient hand in a thicket of your hair, the memory of your father's voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.

—from the essay "Joyas Voladoras," in One Long River of Song (p. 5)

About the Author

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle was a dad, a dad, a dad, a husband, the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, a son, a brother, a friend, a citizen, a pro-basketball nut, and a writer, in that order. He lived in Portland, Oregon until his death in 2017. Doyle’s books have four times been...

For more information contact worshipweb@uua.org.

A heart carved into the trunk of a tree, colored in red.

Prayer of Thanks

By Brian Doyle

From WorshipWeb

Prayer of Thanks for Hoes & Scythes & Spatulas & Toothbrushes & Binoculars & the Myriad Other Tools & Instruments That Fit Our Hands So Gracefully & Allow Us to Work with a Semblance of Deftitude Lovely little inventions, just right for the job at hand—a lawn edger, for example, or an arrow, or...

Prayer of Thanks...