“Heart Of Stone”
Horseshoe Crab – Mirrored
Cape May, New Jersey
Thursday, October 13, 2011

iPhone 4 Camera, Hipstamatic, Photoforge2

While trekking along the beach, my buddy Kevin and I stumbled across a typical find on any northeast U.S. beach: a horseshoe crab.  They unfortunately get caught in the rough surf and are tossed onto the beach.  Kevin tried to save it by carrying it back out into the ocean, but it just tumbled around in the riptide like it was in a washing-machine-on-steroids and ended up thrown back onto the sand.  One of it’s claw-like legs was missing.  Such a sad and helpless existence in nature where the weak, feeble, sick, young, and old easily become prey to the stronger, aggressive, violent enemies.

As I processed the image through various iPhone apps, I was stunned to see this image appear.  It has a strange, almost alien-like appearance.  But yet I’m drawn to its bizarre beauty.  And repelled.  It reminds me of a heart made of a shell or stone.  I recall my prayers throughout my life for “a heart of flesh, rather than a heart of stone….”  A heart that feels deeply, hopes greatly, suffers and endures with honor, gives freely, lives passionately, creates explosively, and loves like there is no tomorrow.  I fall short of this desire on a daily basis, but I believe this prayer is even more needed today than ever before.

Every day the news shows more and more people who appear to not realize that their heart of flesh has been traded for a heart of stone.  Just yesterday an emotionally unstable man involved in a bitter custody battle with his ex-wife over their seven-year-old son, walked into a hair salon in California where his ex-wife worked and shot and killed eight people.  Locally, another man shot and killed his wife and seventeen-year-old son, then committed suicide.  Meanwhile, many in our society are crying out to be accepted for their beliefs, life choices, or world views, along with the rights for tolerance, freedom, and love, but then seek to take away the freedoms of all those who don’t agree with them.  And violent mobs are attacking various cities around the globe in dubious attempts to make the world a better place.

And on another front, there is a growing movement to strip away the barriers of monogamy.  But the more one seems to abandon committed relationships, the less able one appears to commit to any one person or relationship.  The love of many is growing cold.  It reminds me of what C. S. Lewis said: That any reasonable person who walks into a theater to see a bunch of people salivating over a piece of chicken being paraded across a stage would ultimately conclude that the people were starving, not that they are healthy and well-fed.  So what is one to conclude from a culture that salivates over naked bodies parading across the stages of magazines, billboards, plays, concerts, and films?  Are we hungry for such images because a “prudish” society has starved us from such things?  Or are we satiated after experiencing an orgy of such images, free to purse life goals and dreams–because we are loved?  Is the love of many warming up?  Or just growing cold?  Anger and hatred, both in the mobs and in some in the media, where a growing chant is rising calling for anyone with wealth to be killed for the good of society, seems to suggest otherwise.  And the world is becoming a fearful place for the weak, feeble, sick, young, and old, where they are falling prey to those who are stronger, aggressive, and/or violent.

Human freedom, along with the human body, soul, and spirit, are good and beautiful gifts.  Censoring or violating the human spirit is an injustice.  Even evil.  Somehow the modern Christian Church has built and retreated behind monolithic castle walls of wealth and power.  And has appeared to fail in understanding how to integrate such truths without teaching its flock to sever its godly spirit from its “evil body and flesh”.  Or how to embrace the open sexuality of “The Song Of Solomon” in a way that is healthy and life-giving.  And “the world” seems to run the opposite direction–embracing anything, every-which-way–in reaction to a “prudish, stoic religion”.

Somewhere, somehow, someplace a healthy “heart of flesh” can “feel deeply, hope greatly, suffer and endure with honor, give freely, live passionately, create explosively, and love like there is no tomorrow.”  I long for the day to experience that dream.  May we all pray for peace and love to rest upon our households, streets, cities, and nations.