Lessons From The Heart
EDITOR'S NOTE: This post is written in response to the recent social media frenzy over the Season 8 finale of Hallmark's faith-based series "When Calls The Heart." My hope is that the fans of each team will take time to reflect with a "heart view" of the beautifully woven messages throughout this season. There were many messages, and each viewer should determine which of those spoke to you most. For me, the "journey through grief," in all of its messy complexities, took me back through my own journey in a raw, real and relatable way. As a matter of fact, this year's main story arc reignited a spark to write again after a time of sabbatical through personal life challenges. A special "thank you" to the creator, producers, writers, show runner, cast and crew for your devotion in bringing quality entertainment filled with meaning, timeless lessons and morally sound stories. You are a bright light in a sometimes dark and cynical media atmosphere. May we, the viewers, never take that for granted...
As I sit in the quiet of the night, my senses seem heightened in the stillness. The "sound" of silence whispers words that only my heart can hear. The noise of the day has been put to sleep, while my heart and mind are beginning to settle in for a time of rest also. I close my eyes to think about all that my mind is speaking to me. External voices tend to drown out those thoughts much too often.
This exercise of closing my eyes in the evening's calm, is when my heart begins to paint a picture of the images floating around in my head. What I see with my heart far outweighs the sensory images that tend to bombard me through my day. Am I the only one who experiences sensory overload each time I pick up one of my social devices or who clicks a button to browse the enticing programming at my fingertips? They say there are some things you can't live with nor live without. Depending on the choices we make with what we watch and who we engage with, these things can be both a curse and our saving grace. As the guardian of the fountain of youth told Indiana Jones during his search for the Holy Grail in the Last Crusade movie, "choose wisely." What cup we drink from matters! It is with those wise words that I am able to remove myself from the complexities of the day that strive to creep into every facet of life. I want to choose wisely and not be tossed around by every external force vying for my attention over the course of a day.
I am convinced that life was not meant to be so complicated, nor human interaction so intense - at least not continually. Ahhh how I love and desire the simple life! Perhaps this is why I chose this series about life in a small community in the early 1900's as my go to television program. There is only so much I can take of sensational news and journalistic jargon, or self-aggrandizing Instagram stories, Tik-Tok moments and You Tube performances. Talk about overload! We all need something or someone to ground us, to bring us back to our center, to help us find ourselves again. This is what faith, family and friendship are for. This is what church and community are for. This is what home and wholesome entertainment are for. Who knew that something as simple as a Hallmark drama series would calm the restlessness in me? After seeing the passion of the fans over this masterpiece of a show (divinely guided in my opinion,) I am convinced that many other viewers have had similar experiences. It is quite remarkable that a fictional story can both serve as an escape from the cares of the day, while also being so relatable that it is a cathartic experience opening the doors to emotions that hold us back or trip us up in the things we face. This is great story-telling!
The Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde famously stated that "life imitates art, far more than art imitates life." This statement sounds conceptually beautiful, unless we begin to pattern our lives over things we see and hear that go against the simplicity of a life well lived - where each life touches another. While it is true that we often use entertainment as an escape from the "real world," we also tend to pattern our world by what we see and hear on a daily basis. This is why what we put into our hearts and minds matters so much. This is also why I have such a deep appreciation of quality screenwriting.
Yesterday, I took a couple of hours to revisit the finale episode of "When Calls The Heart" to look beyond the buzz talk of the romantic triangle story line that had fans in an uproar. As I went segment by segment, I discovered over fifty real life lessons that transcended time and space - lessons that are applicable to all of us. Like a well-written television drama, life is about so much more than what we immediately see and hear. Sometimes it takes turning off the noise, closing our eyes and "seeing with our hearts." It isn't always the big events (such as the drama of a romantic triangle) or the shiny objects (such as a red serge or a fancy office) that matter, but it is often a morning horseback ride to a picturesque bridge, or holding hands on a walk home; it can be the warmth of a blanket on a cold night, or the gift of an apple on a work day. Perhaps it is prayers on a rainy night for a sick friend, or serving hot tea and coffee during a night vigil for that friend. Maybe it is putting one's own life in danger to keep someone safe, or loaning money no questions asked when someone is in trouble.
The truths I hear in the whispers of my heart and see in the recesses of my soul tonight, are this. Joy is joy. Friendship is friendship. Love is love. Forgiveness is forgiveness. Hope is hope. We all express them in different ways, but it doesn't change what each emotion and characteristic is. They are intangible treasures portrayed through tangible actions. When we start gauging the true intents of the heart by external manifestations, we become like the "artistic" voices and abstract paintings we idolize. We begin to categorize everyone and everything based on our own likes and dislikes rather than their intrinsic value. By reducing others, we reduce ourselves. We no longer show the respect and value that we ourselves both long for and expect.
As I peruse images in my mind from watching this program this past Sunday night, I see a little boy being pulled up and down by a massive church bell that is filled with the joyful announcement "they're coming - they're all coming!" It reminds me of the delight on my little brown-eyed boy's face many years ago when we were alone and struggling. Friends showed up at our door with bags and bags of groceries to fill our refrigerator and pantry. "Look Mom they're here and see what they brought!"
There is also a picture in my mind of a finished manuscript that was birthed in pain, written in grief and completed through patient unconditional love. Watching Elizabeth's hand gently brush over her finished work and hearing that sigh of accomplishment, reminded me of my own writer's journey aptly titled "Journey Within My Heart." I had no idea if the words penned in my book would touch anyone or change a single soul. However, they changed me and they touched my then eighty-one year old daddy who had struggled his whole life with low self-esteem. Hearing me share about my own struggle with that debilitating monster set him free of his self-esteem demons.
I don't know what lessons there are in this beautiful series for you, but I am confident there is at least one for every viewer if you silence the noise, close your eyes and listen to your heart. Life is about so much more than who gets the girl or which team wins. The truth is, when one wins we all win because each life touches another in some way. It is simply our choice as to whether it is positively or negatively. May we not drink from bitter cups that spew toxic words over fictional characters that affect real life people who bring these characters to life for us. That is so unfair and unkind to them and to us. When we become a part of "cancel culture" everyone hurts. There are so few good sources of entertainment and community as there is. Let's not "cut our nose off to spite our face" in this situation.
To paraphrase King Solomon, one of the wisest men in Biblical history: Words have power. They can bring joy or cause misery. "The tongue has the power of life and death." Words can speak life or they can speak death. Our tongues can build others up or they can tear them down. Drinking from the wrong cup leaves quite the bitterness in our mouths. Of all the lessons given in this final episode of Season 8, the most powerful one came from the mouths of the children. Allie stated, "Like Robert said.... we're better together!"
Finally, I am settling in to rest for the night after releasing what's in my heart onto the pages of this post. I think I know the answer to the question that Henry posed to Lucas that set the course for the outcome of the story.
"What does matter Henry?"
"What matters isn't fleeting pleasures or more shiny objects. What gives you comfort at night when the darkness has wrung all the light from the day? Maybe that's it."
Yes! Maybe that's it...