Exploring the Capacity of the Human Heart

Welcome to the first edition of my blog. I will be exploring with all of you the incredible capacity of the human heart to hold within it love and hate, hope and fear, pain and joy, forgiveness and revenge….and much more.

I hope that I will hear from all of you with your insights about what the heart can hold.

This blog will feature a variety of posts, including poetry, video, art and a readers’ forum.

To get us started, here is a poem I wrote:

What I Would Have Said 

What would I have said to my children when they were born if I knew then what I know now?

When my first son was born, I sat awake in my hospital bed and wrote a long letter about all my hopes and dreams for him. 

 I wrote about how much we anticipated his arrival, about how much we loved him before he was even born.

And how we would always love him, no matter what. 

I wrote essentially the same letter to each of my new born sons. 

Many years have come and gone. 

My sons are men now and I have grandchildren.

My life is full. My heart is full. The words of love I wrote are still completely true. 

But if I knew then, what I know now, the letter would be different. 

Not knowing then, that my marriage would end in divorce, I neglected to tell them that all love is good…no matter what….having loved someone matters.

No matter how it ends, or changes, love is never wasted. 

Never fear a broken heart because the only way you can get one is by having loved deeply, and deep love enriches the soul.

Never think that once your heart is broken, you can’t ever love again.

Each time we love, we increase our capacity to love.  

The human heart is designed to love and it has the capacity to grow and expand until it is so big that it loves the whole world. 

Most of us run out of time before our hearts get big enough to hold love for the whole entire world, but many of us come pretty close.

Yes, there was a lot I did not know when I wrote those love letters to my children.

Not just about love, but about the incredible mystery of life. 

So many things I didn’t tell them, because I didn’t know then what I know now.

I would tell them that they are the stuff of stars….

That the very atoms that pulse and vibrate inside us come from the stars! 

We are in the universe and the universe is in us; in all of us, no matter when or where we lived.

I would tell them that they are connected to every being who has ever lived or ever will live.

That long after they have died, the atoms that were part of them will be somewhere in the universe, part of some other life…recycled in the air, the soil, a beautiful flower, a tree, or even another person. 

And because of this, we will never be separate from the rest of the world; from the earth that we live on, from the people we call enemies and those we call friends. 

I would tell them, because I do know it now… 

that everything they do really does make a difference.



Our actions have an impact far beyond our ability to know.

The choices we make about what we eat and how we live affect people everywhere….not just metaphorically or spiritually, but really. 

We share the earth with billions of people and there will be billions more after we die. 

What we use and what we conserve affect them all.

Wars we wage and wars we avert affect them all.

Discoveries we make and how we use them affect them all. 

They are us and we are them, only luckier.

I would tell them that we were chosen to be that accumulation of atoms that won the birth lottery; that we were born to a life of relative plenty.

That we have responsibility because of this.

And I would tell them this too.

None of us will ever make the whole difference; none of us can truly change the world,

Because each and every one of us is needed.

I would tell them “the power of one” really means the power of EACH one combined with the power of many other ones. 

And, although, they share the atoms from the same stars as the rest of us,

Each of us is a totally unique, unduplicatable individual person.

Within each unique individual lies the future of the world.

We are all chosen to use what is in us-

 that stuff that makes me, me and you, you –

 No one else has that to offer to the world.

 So, shine like the stars that are within you! 

Love so much that your heart expands until it can hold the whole world in its care. 

And know that as my heart grows, my love for you grows, every day.

Looking forward to our exploration of the varieties of human experience and how the heart grows to hold and honor all that we experience. I plan to write once a week, but in the beginning, I may write a little more often. So please check in now and then!

In the meantime, what do you think about the heart’s ability to grow big enough to hold love for the whole world? Do you have any examples to share? Please leave a comment if you do!



About What a Heart Can Hold

I'm Jan Krause Greene - writer, peace activist and lover of the earth. I formed my opinions about life at an early age and they haven't really changed much since then - I believe war does not create lasting solutions, love will be the real revolution, and the human heart can expand until it holds love for the whole world. I have been a teacher, a newspaper columnist, a bank teller, a house cleaner, an executive director of a non-profit dedicated to education advocacy, a diversity trainer, AIDS activist, a group facilitator, and a waitress. Whatever it took to raise 5 kids and remain true to my values. I can't carry a tune, but I love to sing and don't know any steps, but I love to dance!
This entry was posted in Family, Interconnectedness, Love and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Exploring the Capacity of the Human Heart

  1. Kathy Clapp says:

    What a wonderful column/blog, reminds me of how much I miss the wonderful columns you used to write in the newspaper!

  2. Thanks so much, Kathy. I might re-run a few of those now and then.
    I appreciate that you checked this out!

  3. Roberta Hyde says:

    Jan, wonderful first blog! I too loved all your columns so many years ago. I have watched you grow as a writer and I am so incredibly proud of you. Good luck with this blog. You have amazing writing abilities and I will always be a reader of your work.

  4. Jenn says:

    well, for one thing, my heart holds lots of love for people like you. congrats on the blog and looking forward to more posts.

  5. Niru says:

    Great job Jan! Clearly writing is your calling in life…look forward to reading more.

  6. Mary E says:

    Enjoyed your blog. Kathy posted it on FB. You poem is so true. But try to tell our children anything. It jusy doesn’t work. we just have to love them and hold them through their pain.

    • Mary, thank you so much for reading the blog. I know what you mean about telling our children things like this. In the moment of their pain, they probably aren’t ready to hear it. Loving and holding them is what they need and will accept, but as they begin to recover from whatever the pain, I think planting a seed of optimism and forgiveness (if it is needed)works. At least, I hope so!

  7. Beth Ramos says:

    What I would have said to my daughters if knew it then, was “Thank you in advance for all you will teach me.” Thank you, Jan for continuing inspiration. Looking forward to more.

  8. Neil Krause says:

    Better late than never 😉

  9. Betty Copeland says:

    Heartwarming Jan. You have brought back some wonderful memories.

  10. Liz says:

    Glad my break from cold calling had me in tears….in a good way. You remind me so much of my own Mom, practically exploding with wisdom that if it weren’t for her, would have taken me years to understand. This was beautiful & I look forward to following along!

  11. Wonderful message — you are a gifted writer. Will enjoy coming back each week.

  12. Amy White says:

    I always enjoy reading your words. Thank you for sharing them!

  13. Deb St. Angelo says:

    I have bookmarked your blog and look forward to more entries. I am so excited about your book. I will anxiously await a chance to read it! Congratulations.

  14. Pingback: In Retrospect | The Othe Side of Ugly

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