Monday, August 31, 2009

the eyes of my heart

fifty feet high
the front row of trees swayed left
the second row leaned right

the first step
in what would become
a most amazing waltz

each individual leave danced
in harmony that exceeded mozart
in grace that exceeded baryshnikov

the late-afternoon sun
reflected the glory that is the Lord
each ray of light focused with intent

large movements intertwined
with a hundred purposeful gestures
to create a moment of magic

a moment, i regret
that words cannot capture
but will remain eternally in my heart

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

heart lovin’ – part four

Love the Lord your God with all your heart.

Quick question: Did the angels cry more on Friday or Sunday?

Which events tugged deeper at their hearts… the forty lashes and crown of thorns, the three painful falls, the crucifixion, the spear in the side, darkness, loneliness, despair. Or was it the empty tomb, the resurrection, the victorious morning, the fulfillment, hope and glory?

Did the angels cry more on Friday or Sunday?

Sometimes I pray for God to open the eyes of my heart. To enable me to see as the Lord sees. But I confess that these have been half-hearted prayers. Here’s the truth: the idea of seeing as the Lord sees terrifies me.

Every day our Father in heaven looks down and sees his children hungry, in despair. He sees brother stealing from brother. Sister taking a knife in rage and thrusting it into sister. With his God-sized heart he sees and feels every moment of hurt and heartache. His own children, his creation, inflicting so much pain and suffering on one another. With his eyes so open, how can God even bear to see what he sees in his heart… every moment of every day. And why would I want to see that way… do I really want to open the eyes of my heart? I tremble just thinking about it.

As noted in prior post, I am not really a “feelings” person. But I do often find myself tearing up at movies, dare I say ‘crying’. Interestingly, it’s never the sad moments. When the friends of George Bailey give all they have, when August Rush’s mom and dad see each other from across the park, when Gale Sayers professes his love for Brian Picollo…

Sitting before my creator this morning, it became clear that opening the eyes of my heart would allow me to see more than the despair and darkness I try so desperately to avoid. One could also see love, hope, wonder, appreciation, unexpected joy, peace, satisfaction, amazement and so much more – in ways never before imagined.

When I think about the shape the world is in these days, I see a lot of Fridays. But today I’m thinking that there are far more Sundays out there. And these events are much more impactful. They reach deeper into the heart. And they can easily wash away and overshadow any pain you can ever witness.

Without a doubt, the angels cried more on Sunday. How could they not?

So I’ll pray today with confidence – and not a glint of terror – Lord, open the eyes of my heart.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

heart lovin' - part three

Love the Lord your God with all your heart.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the best known and trusted personality assessments. I participated in a detailed assessment while in corporate America about twenty years ago and just last week took a quickie version on Facebook.

One of the four dichotomies it measures is how you make decisions: by thinking or feeling. Wiki provides a good explanation of these:

Those who prefer thinking tend to decide things from a more detached standpoint, measuring the decision by what seems reasonable, logical, causal, consistent and matching a given set of rules. Those who prefer feeling tend to come to decisions by associating or empathizing with the situation, looking at it 'from the inside' and weighing the situation to achieve, on balance, the greatest harmony, consensus and fit, considering the needs of the people involved.

I am a T. Thinker. Always have been wired that way. Or, as my son would say, that’s how I roll.

So as I ponder Mark 12: 28-30 this afternoon, I can only wonder whether “loving with all your heart” comes more naturally to some people than others – and if so, what implications does that have for my relationship with Jesus Christ?

People talk about ‘heartless’ when describing those who act without feeling or emotion… lacking empathy or compassion. And while I have probably been accused in such words, I feel pretty confident in the fact that I am not totally heartless.

In sports, however, we refer to a player’s heart to describe their enthusiasm and intensity for the game. In a way, a person’s heart can transcend their skills and abilities. When an underdog wins, it’s more often attributed to heart than chance. This morning at church, we were praising God with some arm-waving, foot-stomping intensity, and it was really cool. But I confess that my enthusiasm and intensity waned before I even reached the car. In fact, waned is a definite understatement.

Truth is, when it comes to loving with all my heart, I am less concerned with the thinker-feeling wiring. After all, even the Tin Man got his heart.
But I do often wonder: why am I unable to sustain my enthusiasm and intensity for the God of the universe? Where is my heart?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

heart lovin' -- part two

Love the Lord your God with all your heart.

In kindergarten, the teachers taught us how to make the perfect heart. You start with a piece of pink or red construction paper and fold it in half. Then – and this is the brilliant part – you only need to cut out one side. You unfold your paper and voila – the perfect heart.

The occasion, of course, was Valentine’s day. So as I ponder this morning on what it means to love God with all my heart, a somewhat scary question arises. Is there supposed to be a romantic element to all of this?

Wikipedia talks about romance as a literary genre.
A style of heroic prose… fantastic stories about the marvelous adventures of a chivalrous, heroic knight, often of super-human ability, who often goes on a quest… In later romances, particularly those of French origin, there is a marked tendency to emphasize themes of courtly love, such as faithfulness in adversity.

Hmmm… that certainly seems biblical. Heroism. Quests. Faithfulness in adversity.

But what about romantic love. You know, the mushy kind.

I don’t think I’ve ever been called ‘a romantic’. My wife could probably attest that it’s not something that comes naturally. So I used the google machine this morning to come up with some romantic ideas:

- write a letter to express your love
- don’t make it about how much you spend
- read a love poem
- learn how to say you’re sorry
- hold hands in public
- use candles to create a warm setting

Paul’s letters, David’s poems, confession, public acknowledgement of Christ… romantic?

Let’s try the dictionary.

intransitive verb: to exaggerate or invent detail or incident............. transitive verb: try to curry favor with

This two-sided definition caught my attention – that the work of God is beyond belief. And yet, we are called to love him with all out heart. So where does this net out? Is there supposed to me a romantic element to all of this?

They say everything you need to know is learned in kindergarten. Which brings me back to small hands, construction paper and safety scissors. When it comes to having a romantic relationship with my Lord and God, it seems I only need to deal with my efforts, my intentions, my love. For however I get there… whether I need to draw lines, or settle for crooked cuts, when you unfold the paper and bring God into the equation, you are left with a perfect heart.

So go ahead.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

heart lovin' -- part one

Love your God with all your heart.

I remember my mom coming into my room, the crust of sleep still covering my eyes. It was Sunday morning, time for church. My teenage pleas for staying home did not reach sympathetic ears. “You can sacrifice an hour,” my mom would say. “You can sacrifice an hour for God.”

Even while they called it a ‘Celebration of the Eucharist’, spending time before my creator was never positioned as a celebration. It was a sacrifice.

Fast forward thirty-some-odd years. While out visiting my mom for the weekend, each of my three children come to me independently and ask, “Are we going to be home in time for church this evening?”

Celebrate. Love your God with all your heart.

When I thought about hearts and love this morning, one of the first images that came into my mind was the famous I NY advertising campaign. The ads showed people frolicking at the beach, enjoying a baseball game, absorbing the majesty of a waterfall, soaring through the sky in a hot air balloon. Loving New York didn’t involve a deep emotional commitment. It meant having fun, enjoying the time, liking the experience.

Perhaps loving God with all of your heart needs to start there. You need to like him. Feel the rush. Thoroughly enjoy his presence. It seems strange to write this, but I need to love the Lord the same way I love playing golf, or soccer. The same way I love a nice dinner or a great action flick. With anticipation and self-enjoyment.

Delight yourself in the LORD.

So today as I reflect on what it means to love the Lord with all my heart, here are a few things that delight me.

Sunlight peaking through branches in the morning. When music is playing, I can center my attention on a single instrument, like the strum of a guitar, and actually feeling the vibrations. A cool breeze gently rolls over my shoulder on a hot summer evening, seemingly coming out of no where. While driving on the highway, the way the foreground moves rapidly while the background stays still, and you can adjust from speed to stillness by simply refocusing your eyes. Feeling alone and isolated, someone comes up, smiles and says ‘I’ve missed you so much, let’s have dinner together.” The stillness and peace before falling asleep.

Yes, it’s true. I God.
If you care to share, I am interested in hearing... what delights you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

re-engaging: mark 12:28-30

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

> Love with all your heart
> Love with all your soul
> Love with all your mind
> Love with all your strength

Normally, I’ve came away from this passage hearing Jesus say you need to love God with everything you have. And while that is true, this morning my mind began to wonder.

What does it mean to love with your heart? How is that different from loving with your soul? What new perspective comes when you start loving with your mind? What changes when you start loving with your strength?

The Sh'ma Yisroel or just Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) is the centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer service… a prayer that dates back thousands of years before Christ. And, as this passage from Mark relates, the most important commandment of all.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to spend some time reflecting on what it means to Love the Lord in these different ways. Let’s see where this goes…