I think one of my favorite places to be is here. In the heart. I feel like it’s the bridge to, well, everything, perhaps. I feel like all the work is to get here. To really get here, into the heart. Just placing our hands on our heart creates a change. Connection to something that’s more, that really matters.
I can’t really say what we’re connecting to, but it feels like we can more easily wade through the gunk and…connect. Connect to Grace? To God? To our Path? Ourself? To one another? All of it?
There’s a lovely quote that it’s really hard to hate someone when you really get to know them.
We’re not talking about Bob, who works at Starrett’s, and has an ex wife, a current wife, three children, and likes to fish. No. Bob. Bob’s story. Who he is for real. Why he does what he does. What he loves, really, really loves. The real reason why he divorced his wife. The real story…the heart story…the one that’s not masked with anger and grief, the one that takes courage to tell. The one that says: yeah, she did that, but, umm, I also did this…
To be clear, I made Bob up, so if he sounds like someone you know, he’s not.
The Heart Story. The one that takes courage. Did you know Courage comes from the heart? The word, that is. Coeur. Heart. Sacre Coeur. Sacred Heart. This passage gets to that depth. The Sacred Heart within each of us.
Perhaps this Passage is a bridge itself. The first parts of the whole passage (you have your Bibles, you can read it again, if you like) are almost more about the internal work. The work we have as individuals and with those close to us. Our everyday people. Our everyday work. Our “ordinary” work. Poor and sad. Mourning and grief. Meek and humble and weak. Merciful and kind. This passage bridges us to the next, more outer work: work in the world, farther than those close to us: Peacemakers, workers for Right, those who dig in and do the work so courageously that they become targets of persecution…
This is just an idea. It might not mesh with what you know and believe and experience in these passages. It might not mesh with what I know and believe and experience in these passages next year or next week. It’s an exploration of what might it mean…and how we might apply it to living.
We have to do this first part work, the work closer to home. Don’t they say it all begins in the home? You can’t be kind if you aren’t kind at home. You can’t be kind if you aren’t kind to yourself. Sometimes, the hardest work is the work at home. They also say: if you think you’re enlightened, go visit your family.
But, how can we expect to do the deeper work of bringing peace to the world, if we have not worked closer to home first. And, no worries, every small work, every small act will ripple out and do some good. That’s the first step. But we have to make the first ripple to make other ripples. Good ripples to overcome all those (sigh) big, unhappy, life-is-terrible, life-is-terrifying, ripples. We NEED more of these small, ordinary day-to-day acts of Goodness. It truly is contagious…we’re just busy passing along, rippling along fear and division and sadness. It’s like we’re afraid to be joyful. There’s lots to say about Joy, but let’s save that for another day.
It’s like we don’t see life clearly. There’s so much much much much Good going on. But we focus on the bad. It probably starts with the news. When was the last time you heard a news story that wasn’t hooking us in with fear and division and blame. It’s interesting times, especially right now, because in every pandemic, there’s always a scapegoat. We have to be very very careful not to get caught up in the mob in seeking for a…scapegoat.
One way is to come back to Love. To come back to the heart. To clear our hearts and minds for God.
To clear our hearts for Grace. Blessed are those whose hearts are pure. This is the clarity to see clearly. To not get caught up in mob mentality or hate and division or blaming others or even only seeing how terrible things are…perhaps this is our task: to find Goodness and Love in all moments.
So that our very nature leans toward love and listening with open hearts to one another. Perhaps that is God.
Coming back to “it’s hard to hate someone once you really get to know them”, this reminds us that in each person there is a divine light, a pure heart, a Sacred Heart. If we can still hate someone, we probably don’t know their story very well. We don’t have to be friends, we don’t have to invite everyone’s messy lives over for tea, but we do have to acknowledge that everyone is worthy of Grace. Maybe we don’t want to, or are even able (at this point) to listen to that other’s story, but clearing/purifying our own hearts is remember that each person has a divine spark, a Sacred Heart. Sometimes, as a beginning, it could be just thinking about that other person when we’re in our own home, alone and safe and sound, that we can begin to clear our hearts and open and find more kindness and more Grace in ourselves.
Turmoil. We’re in turmoil. We’re entangled in a web of negative emotions and thoughts. Grace and a clear heart is … work. Daily, ordinary, work that supports us to become strong enough, and clear enough, to not just remember the divine spark in everyone in the safe privacy of our evening prayers, but to begin to also practice doing so when we meet them in the office, at work, or in the scarier moments of life when we usually “go negative”. Remembering each human being as a gift.
A clear heart and mind, helps.
I love this from our last Reflection on Purity: Slowing down helps us to see the divine in everything. Slowing down helps us to notice God’s “love notes”. When we rush and are unclear in hearts and minds, we miss all these beautiful miracles and only notice the noise of fear (and the news).
There is no place for anger and fear in a pure heart. Seeing God is without fear and anger. But how do we get there? Gandhi would say: “Prayer is un unfailing means of cleansing the heart.” Perhaps a practice in prayer.
Perhaps a repetitive antiphon of this passage: blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Practice saying these words over and over. Morning prayer, evening prayer, meal prayers, stress prayer.
Slow down. Count to ten. Take time to rest and be still. Not only does our body need it, but our spirit needs it as well.
Practice prayerful words. Practice prayerful rambling walks. Practice prayerful gardening. Practice repeating your personal prayer…and if you don’t have one, take time to discover one, and in the mean time: enjoy and practice “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” These words are powerful. Bring them into your life and watch the ripples within and without.