11024 S. Bell Avenue 

Chicago, IL 60643


Reflection February 14, 2016

For the Heart, From the Heart
Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth

     On Wednesday, February 24, the Center for Spiritual Health at our beloved Morgan Park Baptist Church will begin a new health program. From 11 am until noon, we will gather in our parlor to explore the human heart and how to keep it healthy. This gathering will occur on a monthly basis - normally the fourth Wednesday of each month. (We have our All of Paul Bible Study on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 11 am until noon.)

     As we probably know, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined. In our country, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. (Statistics from The Heart Foundation)

     At our beloved church, we are deeply committed to helping promote healing and health in all its manifold variations. As stated in our Center brochure: The Center for Spiritual Health is a community outreach of Morgan Park Baptist Church. The Center has been established to bring opportunities for spiritual growth, health and healing to the people of Beverly /Morgan Park.

     “The members of Morgan Park Baptist Church recognize that there are four dimensions to true wholeness: spiritual health, psychological health, physical health, and social health.”

     For a good number of years now, we have been offering many health and healing programs. Some of the programs have been on-going. Some of them have been a one-time opportunity.

     This new program for heart health has sprung into life because of my own recent heart health concerns. Because of what I have learned about my own heart health, I wish to do all I can to help my heart do its prodigious work for as long as possible.

     I was born prematurely - as twins typically are. Both my twin brother and I were born with what used to be called a heart murmur - related to what is now spoken of as mitral valve prolapse. This is not an uncommon occurrence. But it can lead to other heart issues such as arrhythmia and valve leakage. Added to this is the perennial problem of plaque build-up on the arteries of the circulatory system. All of us, without exception, have plaque build-up. Most of us - at some point in life - will have to deal with issues of heart health.

     So what are we to do? It is my hope that we can gather together each month and discuss how to take better care of our hearts. We know, of course, that our brains are the most important organ in our bodies - but our hearts come in a not-too-distant second. If our hearts stop beating for any significant amount of time - we go home to God.

     “Looked at biologically, the heart’s efficiency is amazing. The heart works without interruption for seventy to eighty years (or longer!), without care or cleaning, without repair or replacement. Over a period of seventy years, it beats one hundred thousand times a day, approximately forty million times a year - nearly three billion pulsations all told.

     “It pumps two gallons of blood per minute - well over one hundred gallons per hour - through a vascular system about sixty thousand miles in length (over two times the circumference of the earth).

     “In recent years, neuroscientists have made an exciting discovery. They’ve found that the heart has its own independent nervous system - a complex system referred to as ‘the brain in the heart.’ There are at least forty thousand neurons (nerve cells) in the heart - as many as are found in various sub-cortical centers in the brain.

     “The heart’s intrinsic brain and nervous system relay information back to the brain in the cranium, creating a two-way communications system between the heart and brain. The signals sent from the heart to the brain affect many areas and functions in the amygdala, the thalamus, and the cortex … the heart appears to be sending messages back to the brain that the brain not only understands but obeys … our heartbeats aren’t just the mechanical throbs of a diligent pump, but an intelligent language that significantly influences how we perceive and react to the world.” (From The Heartmath Solution)

     As we prepare to celebrate another Valentine’s Day with its plethora of red hearts, it’s the perfect time to address our own heart health. It’s my hope that as many as possible can join us for the start of For the Heart, From the Heart on Wednesday, February 24, 11 am until noon in our parlor.

     I end with this telling quotation: “Numerous studies have revealed that feeling loved and cared for, along with caring for others around us, actually plays a greater role in increasing our health and longevity than physical factors such as age, blood pressure, cholesterol, or smoking.” (From The Heartmath Solution)

Morgan Park

 Baptist Church

Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor