Emission Cleaner for the Heart

14 Feb

I’ve been cursed with catalytic converter problems. My last car, a used Ford Taurus had the check engine light come on at 150,000 miles. I was told the catalytic converter was going out and that the repair would be $1,500.00. (The car was barely worth that). Then a mechanic told me to simply drive it until it didn’t pass smog (he checked the codes for me periodically to make certain nothing else was going on) and two years later, the engine finally didn’t pass smog. Then the state ended up picking up $500.00 of that bill.

Now it’s another used car with a check engine light that keeps tripping because of the catalytic converter. This will be another $1,500 repair for a car barely worth that because the year and model of my Hyndai features a special catalytic converter that you can’t get a boot leg copy of. So, they’ve suggested an emissions cleaner to see if the engine can run more efficiently.

As I was driving away in a rather foul mood, I was thinking my heart could use an emissions cleaner. Was it too blackened? Contaminated with emotional debris? Choking on itself? I wondered.

I’ve always prided myself on being a loving, compassionate individual. Nothing wrong with my heart. Plus, I can cry rather easily – another sign I haven’t quite rusted yet. Well, it’s funny how we can delude ourselves. How I’ve built a shrine to my intellect and left my own heart out in the cold like a puppy I cruelly won’t let in for the night. 

Deep wounds scab over but every time you bump up against them, they re-open. Salt stinging on tender tissue. And somehow I’ve hit some of those old wounds and am reminded of how crappy they feel. How dangerous they are because bitterness and depression creep in around them like tenacious weeds.

The heart’s defenses form a protective wall around it. Sometimes a literal fortress builds itself around the allusive muscle.  Sure the bad stuff stays out but joy and love can’t flow freely in. But the reverse is true too. If you open the heart to let in the good, the old pain that was shut off has to flow again. And that sucks. 

Going to church and getting in touch with God opens the heart. It brings in all the joy and love we desire and that is a wonderful thing. Most of the time this leaves me with a sense of hope, renewal and energy. But every now and then, this opening makes me hit the dark – the pain and the loss – because these too sit lodged in my heart. 

Every now and then I feel like God, the Master Mechanic is ripping out all the parts of my engine, my heart included. He’s got grit and grease everywhere. An old motor ready for the junk heap. That is how I feel a lot of the time. I see all the rust and neglect over the years; all the places where I’ve been dinged and dinted. At times like these, I hope He puts in emission cleaner for my heart. Anything to clean it up and get it in working order again. I try to remember that Woody Allen once said, “the heart is a resilient little muscle” and that Victor Frankel remarked, “that which is to give light must endure burning.”

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