One Can Learn Anywhere

Once upon a time, long time ago it was (a time of innocence / a time of confidences?), I was a parishioner at the Mennonite church in Bluffton, Ohio. In addition to being volunteered to teach youth groups about the Mennonite martyrs (which gave birth to the great memorization tool — thumbscrews, blunt force, burnt at the stake / severed tongue, rack-stretched, drowned in the lake — to remember the order of demise of the major participants), I also participated in a young adults study group where a number of interesting exercises were indulged in and then discussed. One of these exercises I provide for your edification and amazement below:

Take a piece of red construction paper and cut out a heart.
Take that paper heart and rip it into several pieces.
Using scotch tape, repair the heart.
Now, describe what that tells you about love.

Here is a paraphrase of my response:

First, the field from which the heart is cut illustrates that there is much more to love than we admit into our own perspective.

Second, the heart is a fragile thing that can be easily damaged and broken.

Third, the heart can be repaired. What repairs it is the adhesive bond of friendship and community, as well as sticking to it and believing that the “center will hold,” despite Yeats’ vision to the contrary.

Fourth, if you take the repaired, taped heart and handle it, look at it closely, you will notice one very important thing: because the ripped edges do not meet as closely as they did when the heart was a single piece of unmarred paper – it now includes a little bit of space between the parts. Your heart, thanks to the rending and breaking, and subsequently thanks to the added density of the tape which now holds it together, is bigger than it was before. In fact, it is perhaps even bigger than it would be if fitted into the original piece of red paper (the field of possible love, you’ll remember).

Finally, because of the tensile strength of the tape used to make the repairs, it is now much more difficult to break along the same lines. Yet, because only a single layer of tape is required to mend the broken heart, it is still as flexible as before; and its color and character, because of the transparent nature of the healing medium, are relatively unaffected and no less red and vibrant. In fact, it may be a bit shinier (and attractive).

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