Purity of Heart

Annual Meeting today at 10am. Strawberry Social: June 25th 2-4pm

I think one of my favorite places to be is here, in the heart.  I feel like it’s the bridge to pretty much everything.  All the work is to get us here.  To really get here, into the heart. Connection to something that’s more, something that really matters.  

There’s a lovely idea that it’s really hard to hate someone when you really get to know them.  And it’s quite easy to get to know others when we truly trust that “If God is for us, then who can be against us?”  We are safe in God’s hands to reach out with our own hands.  

To listen and see one another.  To truly get to the Heart Story.  Who we really are beneath jobs and roles and titles.  Who others really are beneath the labels and facades.  This realness that takes courage.  How often do we hide who we really are, because we’re afraid of being hurt? Being real takes vulnerability.  Vulnerability takes courage. Courage comes from the heart.   This passage gets to that Sacred Heart within each of us.  The Heart and the Heart Stories.  What’s real behind all of our masks and walls and guarding.  

Perhaps this Passage is a bridge itself.  The first parts of the passage is the work we have in our day to day life with one another. The “ordinary” work with poor, grief, meek, hunger, thirst, mercy.  This passage bridges us to the next, more outer work.  To dig in and take all of this work…farther and bigger.  Beyond self and neighbor toward…our enemies. To be the really courageous hands in this world.  

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 a good life.  

We have to do the work closer to home first.  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. 

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 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 too busy passing along, rippling along fear and division and sadness.  It’s like we’re afraid to be joyful. Or guilty.  Or it’s “not allowed” somehow.  

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 the excitement of fear and division and blame.  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.  

Someone to blame is almost always an easy route, because when we cast blame it’s easier to get to the other side.  We don’t like to look as misdeed and horrible acts and feel answerless.  We like someone, or something, to blame.  To be able to point a finger, so we can “fix it”.  We don’t like to be answerless.  But what if, what if that horrible act or deed was done by our friend Joe?  How much harder is it to cast the blame, point the finger, and follow the mob of retribution when it’s someone we know well?  

Maybe we need more friends!  To be friends with everyone. Maybe that’s what Jesus is asking us when he says: love thy neighbor, love thyself, love thy enemies. He wants us to make friends.  With everyone!

The best way to connect is to come back to the heart.  To clear our hearts and minds for God.  Love thy God helps us to love all the other loves.

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.  In all people, ourselves too.  And not just the people we like.  

So that our very nature begins to lean toward love and listening with open hearts to one another.  Perhaps that is God. Everyday, ordinary acts of love…being present in the world from the heart.  

Coming back to “it’s hard to hate someone once you really get to know them”, reminds us that in each person there is a divine light, a pure heart, a Sacred Heart.  We know this, but we often don’t act this.  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 to remember that each person has a divine spark, a Sacred Heart. As a beginning, we could think about that other person when we’re in our own home, alone and safe and sound, and remember that they too are loved by God.  It’s these small steps that begin to clear our hearts to more kindness and more grace in our own lives.  That begin to create the HABIT toward kindness and love.  

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.  And sometimes, it’s our work to be with others and remind THEM that they are a gift and loved. We know how easy it is to forget this ourselves…remember and help others remember.  We are all loved.  

A clear heart and mind, helps.   Slowing down helps us to see the divine in everything.  Slowing down helps us to notice God’s “love notes” all around us.  When we rush and are unclear in hearts and minds, we miss all these beautiful miracles and only notice the noise of fear.  We create a habit of seeing the bad and then we creat a habit of always expecting the bad.  

There is no place for anger and fear in a pure heart. But how do we get there?  Gandhi would say: “Prayer is un unfailing means of cleansing the heart.”  Perhaps a practice in prayer.  Reading the Beatitudes every day.  

Perhaps a repetitive antiphon of this passage (passage meditation): “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.

Take a moment now, yes, right now, and write down how you can bring this practice of purity and trust in your own life. Make a commitment to work on whatever you chose for this next week to bring purity of heart into your own heart and way of being in the world this week.  Notice what happens throughout the week when you do this.  Bring Sunday Morning and the words into action in your life.  Walk the path of love. 

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