15 Jun 2016

Orlando shooting: time to take care of our hearts

Maybe it's because our eyes are right there in front of our heads, oriented outwards. We tend to look away from ourselves and seek answers from out there:

If only my parents did/didn't...
What to do? I came from this school...
Somehow my friends...
Where's the perfect one...

This is confession right here. It's my problem too.

Of course, there are things to grow, improve, even fix - out there. But whether it does or does not; whether it goes in the direction that will truly lead to more grace, joy, freedom and peace; it depends on what is going on right within our hearts.

There's been another shooting. Everyone is looking outwards: did he have links to terrorist groups? Was he radicalized? Some say he was really disturbed when he witnessed two gays kissing. Mateen the shooter, himself, looked outwards: this is a horrid club and the people (perhaps representing a whole swathe of their ilk) needs to die. Things will be different if I acted on the circumstances out there.

We will act out what's really in our hearts. We will communicate what we truly think - maybe not in the words; but in the tone, perhaps in the words withheld or in our body language.

For -

The mess of the world is the mess in our hearts.

The mess in our homes is the mess in our hearts.

The mess in our minds is the mess in our hearts.

How easy it is to denounce structural injustice, institutionalized violence, social sin! And it is true, this sin is everywhere, but where are the roots of this social sin? In the heart of every human being. Present-day society is a sort of anonymous world in which no one is willing to admit guilt, and everyone is responsible. We are all sinners, and we have all contributed to this massive crime and violence in our country. Salvation begins with the human person, with human dignity, with saving every person from sin. ~ Oscar Romero

Our hearts: that space and place where our longings, dreams, fears, dreads, memories and motivations, rationale and reasoning dwell..... the nub of who we are; that is forming, deforming.. and which dictates our performing.

Scientists cannot locate this 'heart'. Is it the same as the mind? Is it somewhere in the spaces between the folds in our brain? Is it but the electrical impulses that fire between the nerves and the chemical washes that are triggered by tiny glands? Science can observe the operations, but not nail the origins. Even identical twin studies must concede that there is some organisation that needs to account for the differences they find when two persons who share nearly exactly similar genetic material simply do not respond in the same ways to the same stimuli.

Recently I read that the Dalai Lama, recognizing the complexity of human emotions has commissioned a project to create a guide that helps people be more in touch with their true emotional state: The Atlas of Emotions.

So often, we can be strangers to ourselves; to our hearts.

The heart is a difficult place to get to. But if all your traveling in the world doesn't lead you there, you haven't traversed the most important space there is: your own heart.

And what havoc we wreak on ourselves and each other.

Just recently I was talking with a divorcee. As her discomfort abated, the words began tumbling out. So many aspects are involved in a decision like this. I considered how she must have grappled with her initial choice to marry the person, all the many pressures she experienced as things started to fall apart, the sense of guilt and anger, the road ahead with a child....yet most of these she talked about rather in passing. I was quite taken aback that she found comfort in finding an affordable lawyer; and that lawyer had waved her arm across the shelves behind her to reveal the number of cases she had handled; as if it normalised everything. Her heart is hushed into silence - for the thing to do is to press on and get the papers signed.

All the debris of unsettled hearts.

We see the muscle. We feel it continually beating out this rhythm; and we just expect it to. But stress can cause an arrhythmia; that skip of a beat. Otherwise, we just keep going, fueled by some Red Bull -ish potion we have found; the high that makes us forget, laugh, forge on.

If you are I are serious about peace within ourselves and in our world, then we must pay attention to this invitation by Jesus ~

"Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11v28, The Message, bold mine.

To live -
begins with getting up, away, and going to Him:

get away, 
keep company.

As with all explorations and discovery, we need both a base camp and trajectory to start out on. The base camp is our present life with all of its circumstances. Jesus does not call us to jettison it all. He never did live with ideal circumstances.

The exploration is to create a way to go to Him, find a way to get away in order to listen, to find a new focus for our eyes and our hearts. It is it listen to his take on things. It is to imagine his approach, his words, his choices. We unlearn to learn. We find it too hard and impossible. We are too ashamed of our complicity with darkness, our readiness to satisfy our egos.

We keep company with Jesus because all our sins and griefs cannot drain His forgiveness and goodness. 
We keep company with Jesus because our best hopes and loftiest ideals will be affirmed.
We keep company with Jesus because we become like the company we keep.

You come away from some encounters deeply nourished - and that's always a slow meal - not a buffet spread where you are tempted to grasp and pile it up. 

Keep company with Jesus, and those who draw you to him. Take care of your heart, and your heart will take care of all that truly matters to you.

"This is the cause why we be not all in ease of heart and soul: 
that we seek here rest in those things that are so little, wherein is no rest, 
and know not our God that is All-mighty, All-wise, All-good. 
For He is the Very Rest."

~ Julian of Norwich

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