Yesterday I was helping my husband stack firewood as he split maple, ash and black birch with a log splitter. Both of us were wearing protective headphones but I could still hear the sound of the wood as it cracked against the sharp metal blade of the wedge. The wood split easily, offering little, if no, resistance. The dulled sound of splitter smashing the fleshy wood, along with the visual image, reminded me of nutmeats in a wooden cup, snapping out of their hard walnut shells when a wooden screw presses against them. The word that came to mind was creamy, like the candied surface of a creme brulee crackling and giving way to the custard beneath.
I thought to myself, if the human heart makes a sound when it breaks, it would be this one. Yet haven't we all resisted a broken heart, steeling ourselves against the inevitable pain, its sharp blade mercilessly tearing the heartstring that connected us to our beloved? But in the end we all give way to the price of love, the cost of willingly opening ourselves to loving and being loved. And having the choice, we would do it all over again, but perhaps with more gratitude and less complaint.
I used to think that the meaning of this psalm was that God desired our pain and guilt at having sinned. Not so. The sacrifice that is pleasing to God is that we not resist love nor its cost.
"O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt offering,
you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God
is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise."
--Psalm 51: 15-17
A riven heart, open and pliant, is the one capable of loving, even when all hope seems lost.