My Heart is Broken (Photo and Reflection)

I've been working over this piece in my head for about 4-5 months now (this is the second attempt at the photo, my first attempt didn't convey what I was trying to convey), and the idea has intensified with the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic.  This is a lament piece primarily lamenting the current cultural and political climate in the United States.

Though the words of the reflection are all my own I need to give a nod to Evanescence's 2011 song 'My Heart is Broken' written after Amy Lee and her husband got involved in an organization that helps rescue victims of sex trafficking, which is where my titling of my piece came from. Video here.





My Heart Is Broken
By: Gregory A. Gilbert

My heart is broken
For lack of compassion when compassion is preached
For those teaching peace and practicing hate
For those who state life but only for few (which they fervently deny)
My heart is broken, my heart is broken, my heart is broken

My heart is broken
For lack of trust in those most trustworthy
For those who hold onto misunderstanding over humility
For those who value tradition more than honest inquiry (which they fervently deny)
My heart is broken, my heart is broken, my heart is broken

My heart is broken
For lack of mercy to those who are hurting
For those who mock sensitivity while being more sensitive than those they accuse
For those who shatter others who threaten their own fragilities (which they fervently deny)
My heart is broken, my heart is broken, my heart is broken

My heart is broken
For lack of love to those who love most
For those who accuse of what they secretly practice themselves
For those who wash their hands in ignorance of all they have done (which they fervently deny)
My heart is broken, my heart is broken, my heart is broken

My heart is broken
For lack of concern for truth
For those who respect views only matching their own
For those who speak the loudest which they least understand (which they fervently deny)
My heart is broken, my heart is broken, my heart is broken

My heart is broken
For lack of love to those who are other
For those who condemn what they cannot experience
For those who are disgusted by their own misinterpretation (which they fervently deny)
My heart is broken, my heart is broken, my heart is broken

My heart is broken
For lack of acceptance of responsibility
For those who present toxicities as the moral standard for life
For those who claim compassion while inflicting malice (which they fervently deny)
My heart is broken, my heart is broken, my heart is broken.  




Allina Hospice Memorial Trees - aluminum wire and glass leaves, approx. 3.5 feet high each

These trees were commissioned by the Allina Hospice Foundation as a way to memorialize all the patients who pass away in the Allina Hospice program.  The idea was conceived by Chaplain Steven Robertson and approved for funding by the Allina Hospice Foundation.

The trees will memorialize all of the hospice patients who pass away by placing the number of leaves on the tree of each season to match the number of hospice patients who have passed away that season.  The leaves will hang on the tree for a year, then when that season comes again the leaves that are on the tree will be sent to the families of those patients and replaced by a new set of leaves for that season.  The first tree that will contain leaves will be the winter tree, which will have 667 leaves made out of white, blue, and clear glass from patients who passed away during the winter of 2019-2020.  The 'overview' photo with leaves will be updated by season as it will be a full year before all four trees have their first round of leaves on them.

The trees are installed at the Allina Hospice and Home Health office at 1055 Westgate Drive STE 100 in St. Paul, MN.  Due to infection prevention concerns due to SARS-CoV-2 the office is currently closed, but once the state is no longer shut down the area that the trees are installed in will be open to public access.

Each tree contains 600 53" 15 gauge aluminum wires, which is approx. a half mile of wire each tree.  Additionally, the seasons are marked by 7 colored wire bands in the trees - green for summer, gold for fall, blue for winter, and light pink for spring.  Around these colored wire wraps are twists of three 26' foot wires which bind the trunks together  The leaves represent the patients, the branches and wires within the trunks represent the patients' families, and the colored wire bands and wraps around the trunks and into the branches are meant to represent the hospice team doing their best to bind together the hospice families and their patients during difficult times.

The leaves are being created by brilliant hot-glass artist Alli Luhmann (www.alliluhmann.com)

Overview photos.  These photos will be updated as the leaves are added.






Summer Tree










Fall Tree
(Note - the fall tree was the final tree to be completed.  The red wire is both my signature and indicates the last three wires to be twisted together during the first part of the tree creation - cutting and twisting wires into groups of three.  The small blue wire at the top of the tree indicates the last loop to be made at the end of the branches - loop number 2400.) 








Winter Tree







Spring Tree










SARS-CoV-2 Spirit of Awaken, 3.21.2020

COVID-19 has changed so much about our world in a very short period of time.  One of the calls of the church is to be a light in the world, to encourage, to love, to care for, and to be the light of Jesus in the darkest hour for all people, especially those who are in need.  

So many people in the church forget Jesus' words in Luke 5:31, where Jesus states "And Jesus answered them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.'"  This is not just metaphorical about someone's spiritual state when taken in the light of the whole of scripture (though repentance is the specific topic of the verse), though many are tempted to take it that way.  A tremendous about of both the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the New Testament stress the importance of the church loving and providing care to everyone.  

During these difficult times, the Church needs to pull itself together, repent of the evil that has plagued so much of the current church (racism, sexism, nationalism, creating false binaries, treatment of the LGBTQ community, and any community that is "other") and again be the shining light that recognizes Genesis 1:27- that every person is an image bearer of God, and it is not our role to treat some as "in" and some as "out" in any sense.

This photo was taken at Awaken Community church in St. Paul, and the idea is that though the church (and so many houses of worship) are empty now when they would be full, that the spirit of those who are in those churches (speaking for my own faith tradition) is still present - and this is also a reminder that we (again speaking to my own faith) should be out of the building helping in any way that we can.  In our current world of social distancing that looks different than it has before, but that just means that we have to be more creative about it - and that's valuable.

This photo was taken at Awaken Community church in St. Paul, and the idea is that though the church (and so many houses of worship) are empty now when they would be full, that the spirit of those who are in those churches (speaking for my own faith tradition) is still present - and this is also a reminder that we (again speaking to my own faith) should be out of the building helping in any way that we can.  In our current world of social distancing that looks different than it has before, but that just means that we have to be more creative about it - and that's valuable.

James 2:14-17 states rather clearly, "What good is it, my [fellow believers], if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead."   


Into the Silent Land - Approx. 8" x 11", Ink Drawing - 12.17.2019

The Gustavus Wind Symphony (St. Peter, MN) conducted by Dr. Heidi Johanna Miller, recently performed "Into the Silent Land" by Steve Danyew which "communicates the composer's feelings following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, when 20 children and six educators were killed by a gunman on December 14th, 2012.  Danyew, who attended Sandy Hook Elementary as a child, asks us to remember; asks us not to forget that this happened, not to forget these children, and not to forget the grief their families are left holding forever" (from the program note for the concert).    Danyew included the following text from "Remember" by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894).

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Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd;
Only remember me; you understand

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land.

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Dr. Miller's daughter Linnea read the text during the concert

The text stuck with me and I wanted to make a drawing about the excerpt from Rossetti's "Remember."  My drawing shows a little girl walking into the Silent Land, with the red in the foreground calling to memory the blood lost at Sandy Hook.