As human beings we each have four chambers in our hearts that pump life-giving blood to our bodies. Figuratively speaking, I like to imagine that we also have a fifth chamber—a special place where our heartstrings reside.
In the dictionary, the word “heartstrings” is defined as “the deepest feelings; the strongest affections.” I like to imagine many strings emanating from our hearts, attached to certain places that we’ll never forget, places that have shaped our lives and made us who we are.
I made a list the other day of my own personal heartstrings and it reminded me of the well-loved children’s book, “Alexander, Who’s Not (Do you Hear Me? I mean it!) Going to Move.”
In this poignant story Alexander visits all of the special places where his childhood memories took place, but he refuses to say goodbye to any of them. Eventually Alexander consents to move, and so do the rest of us, as we close certain chapters of our lives to embark on new adventures. But tucked into the quiet corners of our memory are those special, life-giving places that will forever be tied to our hearts.
Like Alexander, I have many places tied to my heart by heartstrings. Here is just a sampling from my list:
- My childhood playroom—with its pretty wallpaper and large white cupboards. It was the place where my imagination blossomed in make-believe play.
- My childhood kitchen—that always greeted me with the aroma of my mother’s freshly baked goodies and the promise of mother always there to listen to me tell about my day.
- The brown upright piano—one of my dearest friends. There that I sat day after day, year after year, developing my talent and love for music, learning masterpieces from famous composers and creating my own compositions.
- Our mint green living room—in all of its comforting peace. Here we had weekly family lessons and knelt in family prayer each night.
- My High School track field—where I learned how to win even when I lost, how to cheer others on, and how to be victorious even through challenge.
- The whole country of Portugal—that wrapped itself around my 16-year-old heart. I lived here when my Father was a mission president for our church. It was the sacred place where I truly came to know my Savior and uncovered my divine nature as a daughter of God.
- The antique latch window in my bedroom in Portugal—where I shed tears of sadness and joy in my nightly star chats with my Heavenly Father.
- Brigham Young University Idaho—where I fell in love, was taught from on High, and learned from President Clark that every day can be a good day.
- The Hallway, Hill’s Cottage, Cavern of Light, Farmhouse Cottage, Sun Haven Cottage, and finally our White Farmhouse—these are all the apartments and homes we’ve lived in since we were married. They each house thousands of memories.
- The Ranch—a vacation spot from heaven where we retreated last year to find the treasure of family and kindle priceless memories.
I followed my heartstrings back to each place, reliving and relishing each priceless memory. My feelings were tender with longing, my eyes stung with tears, and my heart ached with a bittersweet love. It reminded me of a word in Portuguese that doesn’t exactly translate into English. It’s called, “saudade,” and it encompasses all the poignant yearning and nostalgia of one’s heart in just 7 letters.
Perhaps you could take a quiet moment today to make a list of all your heartstrings—your very own places of precious saudade.
It is good for our hearts to remember.