The Awakened Heart: Musings part 2

The mind must awaken to the heart. ~ Gerald May
— The Awakened Heart, p. 49

Read that again.

The mind must awaken to the heart.

This is a radical readjustment to the "enlightened" Western secular and religious mindset. How many times have I said and have I had others say to me, "I'm trying to get this truth from my head to my heart." Or there is the pithy Christianese saying, "The longest journey we travel is the 18 inches...from head to heart." Hence, a quintessential question of Christ-followers has been, "How do I live like I believe?" And we can all thank goodness for the man in Mark 9 - "I believe, help my disbelief!" This is my reality much more than I care to admit!

But the psalmist also prays, "Give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name. (86.11) And the "heart" in the Jewish worldview was the confluence of brain, emotion, spirit and body. A divided heart was when there was a dualistic dilemma - for example, I believe X, but do Y. Or think of it this way, I know and believe that I should floss my teeth more often, but I rarely do it. It is incongruent - divided - I don't live like a believe. I jokingly say I'm going to write a best-seller entitled, "The things I know and still don't do." Can you think of anything you would contribute to this book?

Yet essential to this journey of faith is the invitation to live in "shalom" - an integrated, well-being of wholeness given by and dependent entirely upon the grace of God for the blessing of self and others. 

So, what if it were reversed. What if God, who in the offering of the New Covenant, has already written on our hearts (Jer 31.33) what we need to know. What if he has already placed in our essential, Imago Dei self all we need to live life fully alive in knowing God and being our authentic self? 

What if we are to be awakened from the inside out, rather than the outside in. Tweet this

I can already hear people cautioning me. I'm not purporting any new theology here. I'm just inviting you to think about the difference between trying to shove, somewhat forcefully, what you believe in your head "down" into your heart and your actions. Perhaps a better way is to awaken to the residual truth that already resides there. God in us - the hope of glory. The Spirit in us - and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17).

Folks - we don't have to find freedom from outside of ourselves because if we follow Christ, it isn't "out there" - it's "in here." And most of the people whom I accompany in Spiritual Direction are blocked more by their brains than by their hearts. - Tweet this It isn't as simple as that - but this is a predictable pattern.

In the ancient prayer practice of quietly and wordlessly "centering" on Jesus - fixing our eyes upon the Author and Perfector of our faith (Heb 12.2), beholding Jesus with unveiled faces (2 Cor 3.18) - we can begin to open to our heart. What does this even mean?

Try this: Set a timer for 5 minutes. Really...set the timer because this way you don't have to "worry" when the time is up. You'll know. In this 5 minutes, there is nothing to solve, fix or figure out. Every time a thought comes in your head -- a  to-do list, a worry, a loved one or even an enemy, simply throw it over your shoulder as if you are literally "casting" your anxiety on God (1 Peter 5.7)  In this moment you are choosing God above your to-do list. You are choosing God above any "insight" you might have or even what you might be given. You are "fixing" for a time, your eyes upon Jesus alone. 

This practice of surrendering allows us to increasingly open our hearts to trust God's love. If you can do it during a timed 5 minutes...you'll start doing it in the middle of your day...learning, conditioning, training yourself to "return" to God. 

What I've noticed in my own life is that when when practiced over time, I stop trying to solve things from the outside in, from the mind to the heart. It allows me to sit with God in what I call a "deep calls to deep place" (Ps. 42.7) where I am in touch with my soul which yearns for God most purely. We don't yearn for God from our brains - if anything, we try to manage God to fit our needs from there. 

The mind must awaken to the heart

heart

the heart

to the heart

awaken to the heart

must awaken to the heart

mind must awaken to the heart

The mind must awaken to the heart

Awakening happens with awareness. Awareness happens with desire and intention to enter the exquisite and excruciating facets of love vs. merely living in efficiency. Efficiency flattens our lives to mere achievement and trying to eke our own significance out the life God has given us. As a spiritual director who companions others on their journey to live in Deeper Intimacy with God and to have a more Authentic influence in the world, I love May's invitation:

The journey toward greater love is not something to be instilled in people, it is already there to be tended, nurtured, and affirmed. (54).

Trying to "instill" the Love of God by beliefs only verges on spiritual rape. Yup - that's a strong one. Stop doing it. Instead, how might we all learn to create unhurried spaces that do not demand adherence as much as invite delight?

For reFlection

  • As you consider the phrase, "The mind must awaken to the heart" - and as you read this musing - what felt unnerving? What felt expansive? What other feelings did you have?
  • What is your deepest desire in your heart right now in relationship to God? To your own life?
  • Are you trying to "instill" beliefs in others? In what ways might you create a space to tend, nurture and affirm the Love of God, self and others in your life/family/ministry?
The Awakened Heart
By Gerald G. May