With my hands I mix the butter until it disappears into the flour silk-smooth.
I pat and push the mixture and press the heart cutter deep into the soft layers of dough.
I make heart biscuits for the beloved souls that gather around my table. Heart shaped food. A silly demonstration of the pulse of my heart: how can I convince them how much I love them?
So I feed them love. I feed them heart-shaped cookies and dough and meatloaf, even. I want them to taste it, savor it, digest the love in it not just the fun or the flavors of a holiday.
This is my offering. This is my communion table.
Do you know? I ask, do you know how deeply loved you are?
I write lists.
Lists of reasons they are special. Amazing. Funny things, dear things, memories that we share. A list for each one, written in pink permanent ink in my own hand – not typed or purchased or computer generated. My thoughts, my love, my handwriting. And the lists, love-lists on strips of paper fill burlap hearts.
I stitch hearts of rough burlap and cotton thread.
Needle in hand, simple stitches in the familiar shape – a dotted line of love. And the truth of their loveliness, tucked inside and stitched and buttoned up is a gift of intention. In order to reveal the lists, the love lists I’ve made for each one of them, they must break open the heart and take the truth out with their own hands, read aloud and hear and speak the truths:
You’re my firstborn.
You make me feel loved.
You are creative, full of possibility.
You use your gifts to make others happy.
You always help.
The naming continues. There are more reasons than there is room in the hearts. Stuffing all that beauty and truth into small hearts is too miniature a message of the love that spills from my eyes even as I write and stitch and stuff and button.
They are symbols, all.
The love feast and the hearts stitched and broken, the food and memories shared. They are quiet, constructed, sculpted symbols and I, an artist wresting truth from lifeless stone, desperate to draw out the value of the people I live with. I can’t say the whole of all I feel, all I believe and know about them–I fear the words would hurt as they came out of me. I am too small to hold it all, too inept to phrase it all. So I set out the symbols on the table, the bread, the drink, the sweets shaped of hearts and sprinkled with sugar, and I pray in my always breaking heart, breaking from fulness:
Let them eat love. Your love, Jesus. Let them be filled and rounded and satisfied. Let them look into my eyes, each other’s eyes and see Your face, Your love, Your feast of grace ever before them. Make these symbols a holy feast, a sacred joy, a gift.