A Brief Catalog of Our AWOL Hearts

I think we get easily caught up in our perspectives of what ought to or should change in the world. When we consider how time and trends and consumerism have impacted culture, we each propose our own opinions about the decay of tradition and lightening evolution of technology. But, I think there’s something objective in all our theory, something transcendent of our individualism and myriad spirituality. Something true about the nature of life we’re meant to encounter in community with one another.

As our world seems to grow increasingly concrete, abstract value understandably wanes. When our focus is persistently outward and plastic, our inner substance atrophies. There are all kinds of epidemics we can see on faces and treat with tangibles, but epidemics of the heart are conveniently hidden.

AWOL, adjective [ey-wol]: away without permission, but without the intention of deserting.

Like an AWOL soldier, the good stuff inside has gone missing, but maybe it means to come back.

The Missing List

    Communication: The open exchange of thought and feeling with intent to hear.

    Endurance: Prolonged perseverance, especially in hardship, without the promise of reward.

    Enjoyment: Finding pleasure in whatever you do as a state of being, rather than an action.

    Enlightenment: The absorption of new information resulting in a changed perspective.

    Family: Investing, with a willingness to be vulnerable, in the people you love.

    Focus: Being singularly and meaningfully devoted to one thing at a time.

    Frugality: Buying what’s needed, occasionally what’s wanted, and sacrificing the superfluous.

      (but also)

    Generosity: Liberal giving of resources with greater concern for the cause than the cost.

    Hope: The discerning belief that an ideal result is an obtainable reality.

    Hospitality: Abundantly providing an atmosphere of comfort and ease in all situations.

    Intimacy: Steadfast, passionate affection bonded in freedom and trust.

    Kindness: The exercise of compassion, help, and grace, minus selfish ambition.

    Laughter: A melodious expression in appreciation of happiness and fine humor.

    Love: Choosing to vigorously value and care for others and oneself beyond what is deserved.

    Loyalty: Fierce, unwavering commitment despite emotion or circumstance.

    Meditation: Focused contemplation dedicated to the cultivation of a deeper understanding.

    Morality: Doing what you believe is right, out of conviction more than obligation.

    Patience: The ability to wait in good spirit whether you know what you’re waiting for or not.

    Peace: Fair conflict resolution with the goals of compromise and harmony.

    Practicality: Buying and choosing based on relevance, enduring quality, and usefulness.

    Rest: Intentional low-activity for the purpose of healing.

    Service: Selfless giving of time, effort, and energy for the sole benefit of another.

    Simplicity: Forfeiting excess in order to more meaningfully prioritize.

    Thanksgiving: Sublime, grateful contentedness regardless of quality, quantity or duration.

    Tolerance: Choosing to acknowledge and care about actions or opinions counter to your own.

    Wellness: High energy, positive outlook, and overall good health of the body, mind and soul.

I’ve taken care to define each word as a I mean and understand it. Maybe our definitions will vary, but I expect the essence remains. May your heart be full to brimming with the inner goodness of life, and most of all, may it spill over into the precious lives of those you encounter.

What else can we use more of in the world?








  1. I love this list, Jane. Beautifully stated. I may just have to print it out and paste it in my notebook 🙂

  2. Your definitions are juicy and genius. And beautifully written too! I couldn’t pick a favourite – they are all essential. I have another one: Presence: The ability to know that this moment is the only moment there is or will ever be 🙂

  3. Beautiful words! How wonderful would it be if everyone in the world (including myself) picked just 3 of these to work on?! I really like your definitions too 🙂 xo

  4. I feel the world needs more empathy, we come into the world fully aware and using the faculty, babies won’t survive without the empathic connection with their caregiver, and somewhere in growing up we wall this off. From empathy sprouts compassion, tolerance and Grace- loving thy neighbor as thyself. Great post, got me thinking!

    • “From empathy sprouts compassion” So true!

      • I was reading this again, after drooling over the hot cocoa and cookies, and wanted to say that this line is beautiful.

        “But, I think there’s something objective in all our theory, something transcendent of our individualism and myriad spirituality. Something true about the nature of life we’re meant to encounter in community with one another.”

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