The Beauty of a Broken Heart

mended heart

Recently someone came into my office and saw a mask on a shelf. She exclaimed, “This is so beautiful!” It is a Mayan mask that one of my sisters brought to me from Mexico when I was teaching the culture of ancient Maya to my 6th graders. Somewhere along the line it broke and I patched it together. It’s still beautiful. The cement that creates the bond between the broken pieces does not detract from its beauty, and, according to the woman who noticed it the other day, may even make it more beautiful and precious.

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About a week earlier, I was in New York with my sisters and a friend. After dinner, we spontaneously visited a palmist on 33rd Street. During my session with her, the hardest to hear but the thing that sounded most true was that I have had a rough go of it (my whole life) where love is concerned. She expounded at length, mentioned a possible curse, and never concluded much about what comes next. The choices I make will guide that outcome, as will the meanings inherent in my heart’s map.

I think my heart is my best feature. It knows how to love and feel things deeply. But my heart is broken. It is broken the way the mask is broken. The lines of glue that hold it together are not going anywhere. They are visible and real. They are, like any scar, a part of me. Nothing, whether artifact or heart, is ever “unbroken.” They can be mended. They can be as strong as they ever were, but the marks of misfortune, brutality, and carelessness will never go away.

Sometime after my meeting with the mysteriously intense palm reader in New York, I was given a routine EKG to clear me for foot surgery. It turned out not to be so routine after all, and triggered a cascade of tests upon my heart, performed at the Heart Center at Vassar Hospital. My heart, the eternally open golden cup of the Tarot, is a gift to me and to anyone who has my love. It is also an organ made as much of water and electricity as meat. What will the tests reveal? Is my meaty heart organ flawed in some way? Or does the brokenness and sadness that my heart holds within it somehow talk to the EKG machine, which measures electrical impulses?

The ghost in the machine. EKG as medium, channeling the mysterious language of a mended heart. I may sound wacky but there is something to this, I think, if not scientifically.

The full-body-and-heart love of my children, not to mention the loyal love of some real friends – and even the nuzzling solicitous affection of my cats – these are healing and pure like the vibration of a rose quartz or the sensuous comfort of candlelight. But the lines in my heart are there. I embrace my beautiful broken heart and refuse to be critical of its scars, its less-than-perfection, or its senseless longing.


  1. Indeed. Your heart is lovely…perhaps even lovelier with its lines. I am ever hopeful mine is as well, as by now it’s a veritable road map, revealing the path of my journey from there to here. There is an ancient technique of repairing broken vases with gold, making the mended vase even more precious than before the wounds. Perfectly imperfect. I like to think my scars shine when the light hits just right. I hope the ghost in your machine is benevolent and fleeting, dear lady, and that your heart and your feet carry you through this securely.

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