February is known to be the month of hearts; usually Valentine’s Day is one of the most well-known holidays. Also, in February there is President’s Day, Elizabeth Peratrovich Day, parent teacher conferences, and don’t forget Chocolate Day, Kite-Flying Day, Umbrella Day and slew of other occasion days. In ancient Rome, there was a Roman festival named Februa. At this festival, people were ritually washed or purified. From this festival, the month of February got its name. February may be a good month to look at our hearts, to take the time to cleanse our hearts, to look at our lives, and make adjustments or affirmations to improve and purify our intents.
At Valentine’s Day, we give paper hearts to those we love and those who are important to us. I once heard an adage about how we can walk by a picture a thousand times and never really see it, until one day the picture takes our notice. Maybe the picture is missing, or is moved, or maybe we suddenly realize what we have been missing. Maybe our hearts are the same. Do we really look with our hearts? Do we see others for who they are and value who they are? Do we appreciate those important to us not just on Valentine’s Day?
How can we cleanse our hearts and see more with our hearts? In 1988, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leader Marvin J. Ashton gave a talk titled “The Measure of Our Hearts.” In his talk, he spoke of hearts, how hearts are a synonym for our entire makeup. “We describe people as being big-hearted, or good hearted and having a heart of gold. We also speak of people being with faint hearts, wise hearts, pure hearts, willing hearts… conniving hearts, courageous hearts… hearts of stone…”
What is the measure of our hearts? What do our actions, our person, our makeup say about our heart? How does my heart measure up?
In ancient Rome, the people held the festival Februa and looked at their hearts. We don’t live in ancient Rome, but we can look at our hearts. A kind word to another could lift another’s heart. Looking at someone from a different angle may help us to see their heart. That person we walk past, like the painting every day, may we stop and see them with our heart. Write a note of appreciation to someone and sign it with a heart. Send a text and include a heart. Marvin J. Ashton also said ‘The measure of our hearts is the measure of our total performance.’ This scripture in Alma 5:26 makes me think about the measure of my heart.” And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” During the month of February let’s challenge ourselves to each take a measure of our hearts.
• Donna Leigh is member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Juneau. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.