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What a power is love! It is the most wonderful, the greatest of all living powers.
Love gives life to the lifeless. Love lights a flame in the heart that is cold. Love brings hope to the hopeless and gladdens the hearts of the sorrowful.
After my wife Teresa had her heart attack two months ago, the cardiologist emerged from the hospital operating room at four in the morning to tell me the outcome. I had waited there all night, and after my sweet wife’s grueling, pain-ridden day in the emergency room, a long ambulance ride and serious uncertainty about whether she would make it through the lengthy procedure, you can maybe imagine my agitated mental state at that point.
The doctor told me “Your wife’s heart attack was very severe, but she survived. I’ve put in three stents to keep her arteries open, but because her heart has been damaged, she will probably need another operation to remodel the left ventricle of her heart, called a Dor Procedure.”
Instinctively I first thought “They’re going to open the door to my wife’s heart.”
Then I remembered, through the fog of my anxiety and sleep-deprivation, that I had once had the privilege of meeting Dr. Dor. The legendary, innovative French cardiologist and scientist had figured out how to repair damaged hearts by attaching a piece of Dacron inside one of the heart’s chambers. In a strange twist of fate, I realized I had met the man who would save my wife’s life, even before I met my wife. At that moment I thought of G.K. Chesterton, the British philosopher and writer who said that truth is stranger than fiction and that a coincidence is a spiritual pun.
This news about my wife’s next cardiac procedure led me to reflect on my deep gratitude and love for those who dedicate their lives to the advancement of science and service to humanity; but it also caused me to ponder and meditate even more deeply on the mysteries of the heart. I don’t mean just its physical properties, which the life sciences are still only beginning to understand—I mean its innermost human properties, as the seat of our feelings, our emotions, our ability to love.
Of course, those inner susceptibilities don’t reside somewhere in the chambers of our physical hearts—they’re intangible, spiritual realities that have no place and take up no space. Some might describe them as unreal, but the opposite is true—nothing could be more real. Every transitory material and physical object will eventually decay, change or die, but the true love our hearts feel lasts eternally in the spiritual world.
The Baha’i teachings say that the light of love is more resplendent in the human kingdom, because of its superior powers and abilities:
In man we find the power of attraction among the elements which compose his material body, plus the attraction which produces cellular admixture… plus the attraction which characterizes the sensibilities of the animal kingdom, but still beyond and above all these lower powers we discover in the being of man the attraction of heart, the susceptibilities and affinities which bind men together, enabling them to live and associate in friendship and solidarity. It is therefore evident that in the world of humanity the greatest king and sovereign is love. If love were extinguished, the power of attraction dispelled, the affinity of human hearts destroyed, the phenomena of human life would disappear. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, pp. 88-89.
So the heart—that great, universal symbol for love and life—stands for the force that urges the lover towards his beloved. Once you experience that force, you can begin to understand the mystical power of unity. When your heart impels you toward love, resistance is futile. When you love someone, when you love all people, when you love creation, and when you love the Creator, your heart finds its truest and purest light:
The more pure and sanctified the heart of man becomes, the nearer it draws to God, and the light of the Sun of Reality is revealed within it. This light sets hearts aglow with the fire of the love of God, opens in them the doors of knowledge and unseals the divine mysteries so that spiritual discoveries are made possible. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 147.
Baha’is believe that these doors of our hearts open onto the doors of heaven—that our love for humanity leads us toward a new life:
The doors of heaven have been opened, the lights of God have shone forth and the heavenly call has been raised. Summon ye all humanity to listen to this heavenly call and invite them to the celestial world so that they may find a new spirit and attain to a new life. – Abdu’l-Baha, from a tablet to the Baha’is in Korea, Star of the West, Volume 7, p. 206.
Despite its grave injury, the love in my wife’s tender heart continues to radiate from her toward everyone she encounters. That loving nature will continue forever.