Love takes many shapes. It can be like the groove worn by a steady stream of water into a canyon bed. It can be majestic and powerful like the great mountains of the Earth. It can be fleeting and fragile like a snowflake.
The shape that love takes often surprises me. With my face into the wind walking alongside the ocean with the darting sandpipers at my heels, disciples by the sea, my thoughts twisted with worry: work assignments, deadlines, and important decisions weighed heavily. Just moments before these intrusive thoughts invaded my mind, I was fully present, awake and aware of my surroundings, able to enjoy the simple pleasures of the sun’s rays shining on my face and its light dancing on the sea.
I willed myself out of the worrisome thoughts, like thieves in the night stealing my serenity, and instead focused my mind on my greatest joys: my husband and six year old son. In particular, the relationship they share with each other. Like the way yellow and blue when swirled together make green, my husband and son together make magic happen. Their delight and joy in each other is a joy to behold.
And so my mind found a womb-like home in these gentle thoughts. The moment when my mind made the switch from worry to joy, I glanced down and saw a small golf ball sized reddish-brown shape sticking up out of the sand, where the tide ebbs and flows. I stopped, as if magnetically pulled towards it, and reached down to pick it up. What did I discover? Not a seashell, but a sea rock in the shape of a heart.
I’m confident that the only reason I was able to see the heart-shaped stone carved by the sea was because my mind was freed from worry to focused on love. It was not a perfect heart like the kinds wrapped in plastic for sale at the store for Valentines Day. It was perfectly real: rough and smooth at the same time, worn and weathered. This heart had survived worry and landed on love’s shore.
I gratefully and tearfully accepted this gift from the sea, dipping it down into the saltwater to rinse the sand off. As I tucked the stone deep into my pocket, I squeezed it tight, pressing it into the palm of my hand. It fit perfectly. I promised myself that I would remember that the shape of love is not only all around us, but also within us and within those we love.