Online Sunday Service:
Open my Heart
In this reflection we will be exploring the the transformation of the heart. As an opening prayer, listen to this beautiful version of the song "There is none like you", sung by Lenny LeBlanc:
This guided prayer will give you an opportunity for prayerful practice with this theme:
As an ending to the heart practive, listen to the following chant, Open my Heart, written by Ana Hernández and sung with Ruth Cunningham. Once you are familiar with the tune I encourage you to sing along with the chant, sensing the vibrations of your singing voice in and from your heart, as this is a helpful practice for opening your heart to the Beloved:
I encourage you to try the following heart practices in the next few days or weeks:
Consciously choose to drop from your mind into our heart, feeling your heart from within. It helps to use the breath to do this, as we explored in the guided practice.
Imagine a veil over your heart, and then when you are with somebody, or just passing somebody on the street, imagine lifting the veil, and perceiving them from your heart.
Picture gradually softening and opening your heart outward to make room for others in an expansive spaciousness, but try to feel this from within.
When you begin to experience strong emotions, especially difficult ones, become aware of how your mind tries to protect your heart - but try not to scold the mind for this, just bring your non-judgmental awareness to what is happening. Then try to stay with what you are feeling, allowing yourself to open to this experience, and at the same time allowing yourself to be held in the vast spaciousness of God's heart.
Try to become aware of your heart responses to people you interact with, and notice when you feel as if your heart is constricting or hardening toward somebody. Gently invite your heart to soften and open in that moment - picture your heart space opening outward and being able to include this person in a kind, inclusive embrace, knowing that we are all held and embraced in the expansive heart of God
Listen to the following piece of music as you read the poem beneath:
Poem from silence
All around you
another realm whispers, beckons you
to see it seeing you.
A whole layer of beingness
hardly yet tapped is in you and surrounds you.
The eye of your heart can see further into
what your senses point you toward.
Flickers of firelight, wafting smells, caressing winds,
vibrations of movement are all around you
right now, wherever you are in this moment.
What happens if we open our hearts,
our lives to this realm?
Maybe things considered not real are.
Maybe the search for meaning ends
and living in the only meaning there is
becomes priority before all else.
For further reflection:
Below are some of the readings from the talk and some additional readings for you to reflect on further:
Thich Nhat Hanh used a very helpful analogy for the impact that a spacious wholeness of heart can have:
"If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform."
Rheiner Maria Rilke:
How I long to be held in the Great Hands of Your Heart;
oh, let them take me now.
Into Your hands I place these fragments, my life,
and you, God, spend them however you want.
"Love is a consciousness of belonging to Another, being part of the whole. To love is to be on the way toward integral wholeness, to live with an openness of mind and heart, to encounter the other – not as stranger – but as another part of oneself. When we enter into the heart of love, that integral wholeness of love that is God, we enter into the field of relatedness …. This is the consciousness we need today, an integral wholeness of love that is open to new life.”
Ezekiel 11:19 :
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”
"A new interiority is dawning on the horizon, a new capacity to read the pattern from within: to live the covenant without a need for external forms and regulations, simply by living it from an inner integrity. And for the first time in Western history, this capacity to see from within is explicitly linked to the heart, and specifically to a “heart of flesh." ...
Then grace upon grace flows through this vibrating reed and on out into a transfigured world: transfigured by the very grace of being bathed in this undivided light.”
The following poem by Rumi captures the transformation of our whole being beautifully:
A COMMUNITY OF THE SPIRIT, by Rumi:
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion and be a disgrace
Close both eyes to see with the other eye.
Open your hands if you want to be held.
Consider what you have been doing.
Why do you stay
with such a mean-spirited and dangerous partner?
For the security of having food. Admit it.
Here is a better arrangement.
Give up this life, and get a hundred new lives.
Sit down in this circle.
Stop acting like a wolf,
and feel the Shepherd's love filling you.
At night, your beloved wanders.
Do not take painkillers
lonight, no consolations.
And do not eat.
Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lovers mouth in yours.
You moan, But she left me. He left me.
Twenty more will come.
Be empty of worrying
Think of who created thought
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence
Flow down and down
in always widening rings of being.
Ending prayer: (from the Asian Journal of Thomas Merton)
Oh God, we are one with You.
You have made us one with You.
You have taught us that if we are open to one another,
You will dwell in us.
Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts.
Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection.
Oh God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept You, and we thank You,
and we adore You, and we love You with our whole being, because our being is Your being,
our spirit is rooted in Your spirit.
Fill us then with love, and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes You present in the world, and which makes You witness to the ultimate reality that is love.
Love has overcome.
Love is victorious.
After the ending prayer, listen again to the song "There is none like you":