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Sunlight fell upon the wall; the wall received a borrowed splendor. Why set your heart on a piece of earth, O simple one? Seek out the source which shines forever. – Rumi
What do you love? What makes your heart dilate in your chest; intensely increases your focus; concentrates all your energies and attention?
If it’s another person, someone you love who also loves you, count yourself very lucky.
I love my wife dearly, and I learned that yet again when she recently had a heart attack. No, it wasn’t one of those “I almost lost her” moments—she and I both believe that this physical world is only our temporary home—but instead, it showed me the depth of her soul. Let me explain.
My wife Teresa has an enormous reservoir of selfless love for others. If you met her, you’d understand. Even in the most challenging and trying personal circumstances, she thinks of others first. Actually, she’s one of the most giving and loving and other-directed people I’ve ever encountered. In other words, she has a huge heart. She’s devoted her entire life to educating disadvantaged and underserved children around the world; children she’ll probably never meet or even see. In the hospital after her massive heart attack and open heart surgery, exhausted and in pain, I watched as she devoted herself to making the nurses and physicians she met feel as appreciated and loved as she possibly could. Everyone she spoke to and interacted with went away smiling.
One of her nurses said to me “You know, I’ve never had a patient try to take care of me like she does!”
Hospitals rarely bring out that quality in patients—but when they do, the power of that open, unconstrained love makes an enormous impression on the hearts it encounters:
The greatest gift of man is universal love – that magnet which renders existence eternal. It attracts realities and diffuses life with infinite joy. If this love penetrate the heart of man, all the forces of the universe will be realized in him, for it is a divine power which transports him to a divine station and he will make no progress until he is illumined thereby. Strive to increase the love-power of reality, to make your hearts greater centers of attraction and to create new ideals and relationships. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, pp. 111-112.
You see, my wife takes her spiritual responsibility to love others very seriously—but it comes out of her naturally, without effort. It’s easy for her, because she simply feels the universal love of the Creator for the creation and tries to reflect it to others. It doesn’t take a great deal of her energy, because she doesn’t have to try hard to find that love within her—she just taps into the love she feels from God and reflects it. Her soul is like a polished mirror that faithfully shines and echoes what it beholds:
The most important thing is to polish the mirrors of hearts in order that they may become illumined and receptive of the divine light. One heart may possess the capacity of the polished mirror; another, be covered and obscured by the dust and dross of this world. Although the same Sun is shining upon both, in the mirror which is polished, pure and sanctified you may behold the Sun in all its fullness, glory and power, revealing its majesty and effulgence; but in the mirror which is rusted and obscured there is no capacity for reflection, although so far as the Sun itself is concerned it is shining thereon and is neither lessened nor deprived. Therefore, our duty lies in seeking to polish the mirrors of our hearts in order that we shall become reflectors of that light and recipients of the divine bounties which may be fully revealed through them. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 14-15.
This rare quality of the heart, I’ve found after many years of life, generates enormous power, resonance and light. If you seek to polish that mirror, it can illuminate everyone with its radiance. When you find that quality, cherish it. But above all, try to develop it yourself. Polish the mirror of your own heart until it reflects the rays of the spiritual sun:
O My Brother! A pure heart is as a mirror; cleanse it with the burnish of love and severance from all save God, that the true sun may shine within it and the eternal morning dawn. – Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 21.
When asked for a definition of a pure heart, Abdu’l-Baha said, “The pure heart is one that is entirely cut away from self. To be selfless is to be pure.” – Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 107.
I’m happy to report that my sweet wife’s sweet and selfless heart has now been repaired.