LOVING WITH ALL YOUR HEART

 

A young man who went to a rabbi and said, “I know that we are commanded to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, all our strength. But I know that my heart and soul and mind and strength have bad parts in them. So how can I love God?”

After a pause the rabbi replied, “It seems you will just have to love God with the bad parts too.” 

Source: Unknown

CONSIDER THIS

Anything that is worth doing is worth doing well, the saying goes. But G.K. Chesterton amended it. Anything that is worth doing is worth doing even badly, he said!

Do you refuse to sing until you are as good as Pavarotti? Do you refuse to dance until you are another Anna Pavlova?

How did we learn to walk? By walking badly, by toddling, by falling down innumerable times. How did we learn to write our names? How do we learn to love?

LISTENING TO BOTH SIDES

The disciple asked the master: “What should a decent and respectful human being do to understand the real-world situation? What makes a human being out-of-touch with reality?”

After a few moments of quiet stillness the master answered: “Always listen wholeheartedly to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark.”

Source | Unknown.
This rendition is as adapted and retold by Philip Chircop sj.

CONSIDER THIS

I am told that the Chinese symbol for “listening” is made of two main characters, one depicting the ears and the other depicting the heart. To really listen one must not only use both ears but also the heart!  To really listen one be fully present, wholeheartedly, offering undivided attention to the other.

What do you hear when you listen to the one you love or to the one you consider to be your enemy? Are you engaged in active listening?

ESCAPE

The master became a legend in his lifetime.  It was said that God once sought his advice: “I want to play a game of hide-and-seek with humankind.  I’ve asked my angels what the best place is to hide in.  Some say the depth of the ocean.  Others say the top of the highest mountain.  Others still the far side of the moon or a distant star.  What do you suggest?”

Said the Master, “Hide in the human heart.  That is the last place they will think of!”

Source | Anthony De Mello, One Minute Wisdom, page 44

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • “Looking for God is like seeking a path in a field of snow; if there is no path and you are looking for one, walk across it and there is your path.” | Thomas Merton
  • “Where do we begin?” asks Meister Eckhart. “Begin with the heart.”

 

WHEAT FROM EGYPTIAN TOMBS

A handful of wheat,
five thousand years old,
was found in the tomb
of one of the kings
of ancient Egypt.
Someone planted the grains
and, to the amazement of all,
the grains came to life.

When a person is enlightened his or her words become like seeds, full of life and energy. And they can remain in seed form for centuries until they are sown in a receptive, fertile heart.

I used to think the words of scripture were dead and dry. I know now that they are full of energy and life. But it was my heart that was stony and dead, so how could anything grow there?

Source | Anthony De Mello, SJ | The Song of the Bird, page 47

 

LONGING FOR GOD

Kabezya-Mpungu, the highest god, had created the sky and the earth and two human beings, a man and a woman endowed with reason. However, these two human beings did not, as yet, possess Mutima, or Heart.

Kabezya-Mpungu had four children, the Sun, the Moon, Darkness, and Rain. He called them all together and said to them, “I want to withdraw now, so that Man can no longer see me. I will send down Mutima in my place. But before I take my leave I want to know what you, Rain, are going to do.”

“Oh,” replied Rain, “I think I will pour down without cease and put everything under water.”

“No,” answered the god. “Don’t do that. Look at these two.” And he pointed to the man and the woman. “Do you think they can live under water? You’d better take turns with the Sun. After you have sufficiently watered the earth, let the Sun go to work and dry it.”

The god turned then to the Sun. “And how are you going to conduct yourself?” he asked.

“I intend to shine hotly and burn everything under me,” said his second child.

“No,” replied Kabezya-Mpungu. “That cannot be. How do you expect the people whom I created to get food? When you have warmed the earth for a while, give Rain a chance to refresh it and make the fruit grow.”

“And you, Darkness, what are your plans?”

“I intend to rule forever!” was the answer.

“Have pity!” cried the god. “Do you want to condemn my creatures, the lions and the tigers and the serpents, to see nothing of the world I made? Listen to me. Give the Moon time to shine on the earth, and when you see the Moon in its last quarter, you may again rule. But I have lingered too long. Now I must go.” And he disappeared.

Somewhat later, Mutima, Heart, came along, in a small container no bigger than a hand. Heart was crying, and asked Sun, Moon, Darkness, and Rain, “Where is Kabezya-Mpungu, our father?”

“Father is gone,” they said, “and we do not know where.”

“Oh how great is my desire,” said Heart, “to commune with him. But since I cannot find him I will enter into Man, and through him I will seek God from generation to generation.”

And that is what happened. Ever since, all children born of Man contain Mutima, a longing for God.

Source | The Creation of the World: A Myth of Uganda retold by Charlotte and Wolf Leslau

PONDER AND CONSIDER

Our hearts were made for you oh God and they won’t find rest until they rest in you. | St Augustine

  • Are you living your life with heart?

BEYOND ALL ASKING

There was a boy who knew how to make others relax by his friendly talk, and once they relaxed, he’d ask his many questions. But he always went home alone. The next day he’d talk some more, and sooner or later, he would always get to questions of love, colorful questions that would stretch and spread and fall, just like leaves.

He lived this way for many years and the deep asking opened his heart. The space of his heart grew very wide and people would come and go like birds in the orchard of questions that was his heart. But once everyone left, he was alone with all he knew.

One day there was a vibrant being who would not enter the orchard of his questions. No matter how friendly he was, she wouldn’t answer him. She simply fluttered close and held him, then waited in the world. It took the boy a long time, for he was now covered with the bark of a man, but he wanted to be held, and so, uprooting himself, he left the shade of his own heart and began to live.

Source | Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, pages 308-309

PONDER AND CONSIDER

If you try to understand love before being held, you will never feel compassion.

  • While breathing deeply, consider the ways you prepare yourself to be loved.
  • With each inbreath, lift up your prerequisites to being held.
  • With each outbreath, let go of all that is unnecessary.
  • Breathe slowly, and begin by allowing yourself to be held by the very air.

SCRIPTURE ON THEIR HEARTS

There’s a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts.

One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?”

The rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.”

PONDER AND CONSIDER
  • What heart to you carry around? Is it a heart of stone, frigid, rigid and sterile or a heart of flesh, pulsing with the pulse of God, soft, tractable, and not afraid to break open, touched, renewed, refreshed and recreated?