If ever there was a time, now is the time to cherish. Cherish life and each other. Cherish children and pets. Cherish birds and soft breezes. Cherish blue skies and starry nights. Also cherish yourself and the miracle of you being at all.
One of our greatest capabilities is to cherish, to treasure in the heart. And we need to be cherished, as well as to cherish. To have no one to hold us in their heart is to be truly alone. We dwell not only in the world, but also in the hearts of others. So when we pass, we continue to exist in the hearts of those who cherish us. As long as they live, so do we. Something of our presence abides in their hearts, in their hidden hearth of hallowing.
Perhaps we should gauge our success or failure in life by whether and to what extent we are cherished in the hearts of others. What does it matter if we should gain a host of material possessions, while having no one to care for and treasure us? Others will eventually take our material possessions to enhance theirs; yet none will have taken something of our spirit to enrich their own. True treasure is of the heart – and in the heart.
If we do not cherish, our hearts become crusty shells without the living imprint of precious others. Those who do not reach out to embrace others, who have no living network of friends and family, will never know how their hearts could have grown through cherishing. It takes cherishing to keep the heart vital and vibrant. Our capacity to treasure others is one with our capacity to savor life itself.
How we are able to take others into our hearts and cherish them is as great a mystery as how we are able to love. Cherishing is a private matter, which cannot be observed. It is an essentially free act. No one can coerce us to cherish them, nor can we force another to cherish us. It is something that happens in the sanctity of our inmost being, when we open our heart to receive another. In so doing, a new wing is created in our heart, a special place for only this person, where the other’s image may dwell, where we may adore, bless and pray for their well-being.
There is of course risk in cherishing. To let another into your heart renders you vulnerable to all manner of suffering. You could be betrayed, abandoned, or rejected; the other may not meet your expectations and desires. And how difficult to remove a loved one from your heart! To divorce another means as well to dismember a section of your own heart. It’s easier to withstand the death of a loved one; then you can continue to reverence the other in that section of your heart which will become a kind of altar to their memory.
Yet there is reward beyond measure in cherishing. It can bring you joy sufficient to justify the suffering you may have to endure. Cherishing makes life more bearable and meaningful. I have told elderly who were questioning whether their life still had purpose, that an important reason for staying alive is to cherish and pray for loved ones. Holding and cherishing others in your heart is reason enough to live.