“Nail that sucker open if you have to!”  She is speaking of the door to my heart.  Not only literally, but figuratively.  My assignment is to create a box to express what is means to open my heart, allowing my true light to shine.  I look at the boxes on the table in front of me:  a striped Stride Rite shoe box,  an old wooden cigar box, and two or three worn heart-shaped boxes, once bearing Valentine chocolates.  Nothing really grabs me, but I bring home the cigar box along with the supplies for several other projects on my list.  I figure the inspiration will come eventually.  And, if it doesn’t, I’ll have to dive-in, regardless.

Often, some of my best ideas come to me in the middle of the night, when I am trying to sleep.  And fortunately, I wake-up at my usual 2:30 in the morning with the words to an old Micheal W. Smith song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” running through my head.  Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.  Open the eyes of my heart.  I want to see you.  I want to see you.  That’s it!  I need to open the eyes of my heart in order to truly see you, God!  If I want to see my true self, I need to see You more clearly.

I e-mail my art teacher the next morning.  “Can you set that heart-box aside for me?  I need to cut a door in it.”

The outside of my box comes easily, as this is the part of my heart that I am comfortable sharing with the outside world.  A few images from an old book.  Some tissue paper.  One or two embellishments.  Simple grace with just a bit of reserve.  But the inside of my box?  If only you knew how many layers!  Turquoise paint. Scrapbook paper. More paint. Gel Medium. Fabric. Gesso. Wax. Oil pastels.  An old quilt piece.  My grandmother’s vintage jewelry.  A sprinkling of glitter.  This project is long and messy.  Sometimes, it even feels a bit scary.  What if I try something and it is a big mistake?  A mistake that’s hard to fix?

Just like my heart-box, the transformation of our hearts is not a simple process.  Layers have to be sifted-through and deciphered.  Expectations.  Fears.  Wounds.  Some layers we choose to keep.  These layers feel right.  And some we choose to alter into something more beautiful, better able to reflect God’s spirit.   As a result of this sifting, deciphering, and altering, though, we end-up with a whole heart.  A soft heart.  A heart full of grace, compassion, and movement.  A heart radiating  God’s beauty.  Our beauty.