WHEN LOVE BREAKS THROUGH, WE ARE SUDDENLY ABLE TO ACCEPT OUR WEAKNESSES AND FAULTS WITHOUT COMING UNGLUED.
“Hungers of the Heart” by Richard Watts.
Watt quotes David James Duncan, who tells about his search that finally brought him to hollowing out a place in his heart about the size of a thimble. Duncan continues, “When I was twenty, in India one day, I turned to God with embarrassed sincerity and said, ‘ Would you care to fill this little thimble with anything?’ and instantaneously, -almost absurdly really, – an undeniable, unimaginable, indescribable lake of peace and love landed on my head in reply.”
Watts continues: “This experience that Christians call grace breaks into the anxiety, confusion and self-doubt that trouble us and frees us to journey along a path toward becoming a real self. ….It need not be as sudden or dramatic as Duncan’s. We need not be “born again;” we live in God’s grace simply by virtue of having been born. Whether for us a breakthrough comes as we look up to the stars, ponder the mysteries of DNA, find someone who loves us, help heal another’s hurt, take a risk for justice, (recognize our limits and helplessness, hit bottom, are forgiven by someone we have harmed* my additions) the experience of being accepted restores us to our real selves.
The paradox is this: that when love breaks through, we are suddenly able to accept our weakness and faults without coming unglued.
We come to accept that even our best impulses are tainted by self-interest, that we pretend to know more than we really know, and to “have it all together” when we really don’t. We begin to see that our strengths are really also our pitfalls: ambition that enables us to achieve can result in a stunted personal life with little time for love and friendship, the pride that allows us to walk in dignity may also keep us from acknowledging our mistakes; the charm that opens doors for us may lapse into shallowness on which we depend without seeking deepening, growth and newness; the intellect in which we trust may mask a denial of the emotions, which one day erupt in us in discomfiting force. (Our tendency to respond to life emotionally may help us understand and reach out to those who are suffering, but since emotions are short term, we may make our choices based on them with consequences that are destructive in the long run.* my addition )
The wonder of grace is that we are increasingly able to see ourselves as we really are without despair.”
And that is the first step to becoming free to grow and change in ways that give us more balanced, appropriate and grace-filled responses to life.
Hungers of the heart: to find a personal reason for being here, a purpose worth living for; hunger to shed our loneliness, to have honest relationships with one another; for a society that is more peaceable and fair; and a hunger to feel at home in a cosmos that we so briefly inhabit, a hunger that many people call God.
Regarding the words Spiritual and Religious, you might think of it this way: Spirituality is personal religion and religion is social spirituality. Both words refer to the human need to find our place in the overall scheme of things.
However, in virtually every field of human endeavor, new discoveries are praised. …In no other area of life is denial of progress held up as a virtue, except religion.
Carl Sagan was right: “Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
But often our skepticism doesn’t go deep enough, because both reason and science don’t go deep enough to satisfy the hungers of the human heart. And reason can be used to rationalize bad behavior and science can be used for destruction.
While rightly appalled by the evil done in the name of religion, do we picture a Jesus who would bash gays, cover up for priestly pedophiles, or beat the drums for a holy war?
Carl Sagan again: “Nearly every scientist has experienced in a moment of discovery or sudden understanding, a reverential astonishment.”
This sense of awe and wonder is the cornerstone of all authentic religion. But just as we have trouble describing or explaining the meaningfulness of music, art, love, beauty….so do we in explaining our trust in the meaningfulness of life, which is what faith means.
Religion or spirituality is a focused attitude of trust that moves us to an ethical lifestyle that becomes our thank you note for the gift of being here.