Tag Archives: the heart

Can consumers be saved?

In trying to understand ourselves, people have worked out different ways to analyze aspects of the human person. Are we spirit-soul-body or mind-emotions? Is it body-and-intellect, or heart vs. head? It’s too bad we have to be always chopped up into warring interests. God intended for us to be unified creatures, as the Holy Trinity is a Unity, but only by God’s grace can we begin to know some of that intended wholeness.

What is the heart? Surely it’s not just the emotions, as many moderns seem to think. The Orthodox Church understands the heart very differently and more deeply than this. The Greek word nous, the fathers tell us, is not easily translated into English. But some current writers have been able to get through my dullness and give a little more clarity.

One of these is Fr. Stephen Freeman, and his recent blog post “Shopping for God” contains a lot of nourishment that will take me some time to soak up thoroughly. My title is a question posed at the end of his article written on Black Friday Eve.

I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping, but even when I come to the end of that I know there will be other anxiety-producing prompts to and from my false self, so I appreciate Fr. Stephen’s reminder of my inheritance in Christ, and His Kingdom within.

Here are some excerpts:

Shoppers desire beauty, acceptance, self-confidence, power, intelligence, pleasure, excitement, a host of intangible needs. They are not natural needs, but the passions of the spiritually disordered. Our unnatural existence is centered in the false self — the sense of identity generated within our memory, thoughts and emotions. It is burdened with uncertainty. Comparing, judging, measuring, revising are constant activities of the mind in its role of the false self.
 ………

Christ at the well

The human life was created to be centered in the heart, the spiritual seat of our existence. The heart is not subject to the passions, not driven by desire and necessity. It is not the same thing as the mind. It does not compare or judge, measure or spin tales of its own existence. It simply is. It is in the heart that we know God (truly know). Its aesthetic is true beauty, found within the most ordinary of objects as well as in the greatest efforts of man. The heart is content.

 

A Dream of What’s Real

It was about 40 years ago I had a dream that I know was from God. I don’t remember any since then about which I felt such assurance. Many dreams I have are mild nightmares of household disasters, though I have also experienced dreadful nightmares that left a cloud over the first hours of the day.

This dream was of a garden. I was walking in a lush and green garden, where birds were singing and flowers were blooming. Cool lawns stretched between all the most fitting tall trees and flower beds, everything breathing with new life. The air was warm and balmy — it was obviously Spring or early Summer. As I followed the paths and took in the beauty I felt very happy and peaceful, but I didn’t think of taking a nap on the grass, because the atmosphere of the place made me feel too alive and awake. Then, the words were spoken, “This is your heart.” And I woke up.

I can well recall the sweetness that filled me as I lay in bed in those few minutes after waking, knowing that God had given me a taste of His presence. That lovely feeling stayed with me all day. I told a few people about the dream, and was often encouraged by it in a vague way. There was no clear doctrine to hold to; it was more like a promise.

This morning when I woke I got to thinking about that garden, and how it might still have something to teach me about prayer. It is possible, the fathers teach us, to always live in the garden of the heart, where God and His love are constantly available to us, even when our minds are required by the everyday cares of life to be busy elsewhere. We can live in that garden even when our earthly houses and treasures are in ruin from earthquake, or when we walk in the front door to find that thieves have stolen us blind. The Life that we absorb through our pores in that place can energize us to do the necessary work of repair and healing.

In the last week I’ve been hearing a bird song in the backyard in the mornings, but it was not my robin whom I wrote about before, a messenger of comfort from just a few years ago. I strained to hear that robin’s chirp that means so much to me now, but he was not on the airwaves. Lo! this morning before I got out of bed there he was, and he started in. God sends birds like angels.

“The kingdom of God is within you,”  said our Lord. The robins and other angels are there, nearby where He makes us to lie down in green pastures under heavens that declare His glory, and where nothing can separate us from the Love of God.

Chartwell, Kent