How Wide the Heart, How High the Soul

One of my favorite poems is by Edna St.Vincent Millay. Whenever I read it, I’m reminded that we each hold in our hearts and minds the extent to which our lives are stretched into meaning and significance.

She writes: “The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky”
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat—the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.” Edna St. Vincent Millay, Renascence and Other Poems

We make choices every day in how close we’ll let another person get to us. We decide ourselves if we will share the deep thoughts of our hearts. We make decisions about generosity of spirit. Will we express care for a person going through a tough time, or ignore the impulse to reach out? Will we volunteer for a cause we believe in, or be an observer? Will we risk a new direction or cling to our security? Will we pull into ourselves, when life is tough, or will we let others into our hearts? Will we let go of our fears and skepticism long enough to do some good in this world.

Walter Brueggeman in his book, “The Threat of Life” says: “When we live according to our fears and our hates, our lives become small and defensive, lacking the deep, joyous generosity of God . . . Life with God is much, much larger, shattering our little categories of control, permitting us to say that God’s purposes led us well beyond ourselves to give and to forgive, to create life we would not have imagined.”

How wide is your heart today? How high the soul? What is God nudging you to do? Are you willing to allow your spirit and soul to stretch to the sky – enough to let the face of God shine through?