Songs of the Heart

Songs of the Heart

As my second question tumbled out, I literally thought, “Just say congratulations.” 

It went like this: “Where will you be studying in the fall?” I think before she finished  “….. University,” I followed up with, “And what do you want to do when you graduate?”  The young woman hadn’t yet begun her collegiate walk along the cobblestoned academia walkways, let alone saying the name of the school she’d be attending, and there I was jumping way ahead to the next season of her life. It rolled off my tongue easily because it is the question du jour this time of year.  For the graduates, the answer is replayed time and again, often one that sounds so grown up but really means, “Not really sure.”  I get it.  How can we really know at the tender age of seventeen what the years ahead hold?  Even at fifty-one, there are days I wonder what life will look like when this chapter is complete.

Yet on this day, the response I received was different.  She launched into an answer that sounded more like a song – a song of the heart. When she finished, I couldn’t help but consider a similar conversation from over a decade ago… 

I could hear my babies playing in the room on the other side of the wall. They bantered unapologetically about their dreams – my son would care for the earth, my daughter would care for the animals. Well, I should clarify, it was not in such sophisticated terms.  She was five and he was seven and my PJ clad littles had started the day deciding they needed business cards for the enterprises they were sure would operate in complete and total efficiency.  Caring for the earth would come through a landscaping business whose trucks would help transport the animals in her care back and forth to the nearby animal hospital.  Amongst all their blue skying were moments of quiet that allowed them to design the ever important business card. Then his question broke into silence asking, in a very serious tone, “What is your title?”  And the matter of fact exchange that ensued has been tucked into my heart ever since. It went like this:

He:  What is your title?

Her: What’s a title?

He: It’s what you want people to call you?

Her: OH- Care Taker. I am a Care Taker.

There is much to be said of the entire exchange and what would become of the simple business card.  Maybe someday I will sit down and pontificate on paper what has been the ponderings of my heart.  Of late though, I have been thinking about the conversation with that soon to be graduate and my babies’ blue skying.  Perhaps it is because this time of year offers pictures of square caps held by eager beautiful smiles ready to fly bumped up against toothless 1st day smiles from over a decade before. 

I’ve wondered more than not, if we hold up the 1st day picture to the graduate and ask, “What was your dream when you started this journey?” would their answer reflect the horizons they now dare to venture towards?  You see I believe we all have a purpose tucked into the crevices of our hearts that cannot be manufactured nor can it be manipulated.  Some may call it a passion, others a gift. I call it a purpose intended to lead us through a life filled with passion and offering gifts we could never otherwise fathom. 

I also believe we all long to live in the truth that we are doing what we were placed on this earth to do. I believe it’s the reason we wave arms in victory when we hear a redemption story, why snippets of how to live in your true purpose go viral, and why we pour over biographies of heroes and leaders to create life formulas that will emulate their success.  A commonality among every single story and snippet, tales analyzed, shared and replayed, is a recounting of a heart honored despite every obstacle.  These are the ones who led contributions that changed the course of a human or history. I won’t assume your story, perhaps though, like me you’ve leaned into discovering how you can honor your heart with each season of your life.  Perhaps you, too, have followed or read in hopes to be a better parent, co-worker, or friend.  

You see, I am convinced that we do this because slowly over time, the certainty that our dreams will lead to a true destination dissipates among the demands of trends, friends and everyday obligations. Somewhere along the way we title our dreams impractical or out of reach because the reaching for it has stretched our arms to their limit. What I know to be true is there will be setbacks, there will be course corrections, and there will be times when stretched muscles must rest. But they are not defeats and when we claim them as such and dismiss the dream, well – it is a tragedy.  I wonder how many have suffered because “Care Takers” of all kinds diverged from their ever important mission because of a setback or simply because it wasn’t cool.  How many songs have sat unwritten because they were abandoned for the calm, safe, and predictable?    

What would happen if we remained steadfast in cultivating the passion and purposes of our hearts and dared to chase the dream wherever that may take us?  What if we, each one of us, chased it down from the day we smile toothless for our first school picture to the day we pose victorious after Pomp and Circumstance concludes. I wonder then would “what’s next” feel different? I wonder if our world would feel different?

I have the business cards that ensued from the morning of my babies’  banter in the room on the other side of the wall.  They are tucked into places that remind me of the wisdom my littles had no idea they were imparting.  I think about what has become of the “landscaper.”  While the description has evolved and the path his heart is taking has had it twists, he is still chasing down what is the essence what is his dream.   And I have seen the impact the Care Taker continues to make and smile knowing the endless possibilities and unlimited potential when a heart is honored. 

And, you know, as for that question…I still cringe automatically asking the impending graduates but I still ask in the hopes I can hear the songs of their heart.