The Most Beautiful Heart

adapted from author unknown

“Does it hurt to be real?” asked the rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the skin horse, “but when you are real,
you don't mind being hurt.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

There once was a land where the people could see each other's heart and see what love does to it. And in this land was a boy with a most pristine, exquisitely-shaped heart. Not a mark or flaw marred its immaculate perfection.

The boy's parents allowed visitors from across the land to come and marvel at his perfect heart. They would take him to festivals. Wherever they went, everyone agreed he had the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. But no one was allowed to speak to him, to ask him about his life. Few people ever did.

The day came when the boy was old enough to travel on his own. At least he saw it that way. After asking many times, one morning, without a word, he put on a coat and left the house. He asked directions and set off for the county fair.

As the sun rose, the day warmed, and the lad took off his coat. Soon he arrived at a tiny village. People could see his heart now, and a crowd gathered around him. Beyond the oohs and ahhs came the sound one man laughing. From a porch by the road came laughter, deep and hearty.

Could it be? Yes, there was an old man, and he was laughing. He was laughing at him.

“What's so funny?” asked the lad.

“I've heard about you, and now I see that it's true. My heart is far more beautiful.”

The lad walked over to see for himself. And what he saw was shocking. The man's heart was full of holes and scars. It had places where parts had been removed and other parts put in. The pieces didn't fit quite right, and there were gaps and jagged edges. Some holes had never been filled in.

“How can you say your heart is more beautiful? Mine is perfect; yours is a mess.”

“Some of us start more perfect than others. The others have a head start.”

“What are you talking about?” said the youth. He had never been spoken to this way before.

“Your heart has its beauty, but I would never trade yours for mine. You see, each scar shows where I have given my love. Sometimes people give me a piece of their heart, and it fills the space as best it can. Other times, I have given my love and gotten nothing in return. Those are the empty spaces. They hurt, but they show me that I can love and love again.”

The lad stood and stared, silent, his mouth agape, with tears running down his cheeks. He'd never tasted tears.

Suddenly, instinctively, he knew what to do. Just as he'd left his parents’ house, he left where he stood. He walked up the porch steps as the man rose to meet him. They embraced for some time, and when he stepped away, the boy had become a man.

He saw that the old man’s heart had a bright new piece where a hole had been. And he saw that his heart had become more beautiful.

His life, his life, had just begun.


Hearts are made to be broken.

Oscar Wilde