Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and steadfast spirit within me.
Who or what merits the attention of your whole heart these days?
We are living through a time of extremes,
where the so much of so few
leaves too little for too many;
where understanding and forbearance
are held hostage
by fanaticism and fear;
where hateful brutality
comes garbed as religion,
and callous cynicism dresses up as freedom.
Yet, it is deeper into this disturbing wilderness
that we are beckoned,
to bare our hearts to a voice;
the keening chorus
of tenuous life,
now sorely afflicted,
echoed in the booming surf
and crackling glaciers
of warming-wasted oceans,
amid the chafing cries
of God’s children cast adrift
on treacherous seas.
Within this refrain lingers,
barely perceptible, the longing of Our Long-Suffering Lover,
holding out for healing.
Yet even now, says your God, return to me with all your heart…
Lent invites us to leave hearts ajar and comforts behind,
and wander far from certainties
that would harden the edges of our care.
The wilderness of compassion hides secret seeds;
dry and dormant, anticipating catharsis—
the melting of hearts.
These packages of possibility hold blueprints for peace
that blossom with the merest inclination of reverence,
and precipitation of tenderness.
In a world such as this,
who has the courage
to be vulnerable first?
Who dares confront
terror and taunting
with the hot truth of tears?
Who is strong enough to be gentle,
and willing enough to embody this paradox:
only the broken are made whole-hearted?
Vulnerability is the only reliable measure of courage. -Brené Brown
Though in her manifold dimensions
universe looks like chaos,
at her core mysterious, she is profound connection,
expansively outreaching, like light itself,
longing for communion—deep calling out to deep
in one sweeping cosmic sacrament!
Will you quiet your soul,
steady your voice,
and ready your loved ones for wholehearted living,
so that lovingly we might stand together,
before the haze of hurt and hatred,
mischievous mockery and the reckless ruination of holy life?
…assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast…Between vestibule and altar let the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord…”
Will you weep too, and keenly wonder,
at the state of God’s garden,
and at woeful wounded humanity—body-broken of Christ?
Wholehearted living, compassion practiced,
is the pathway into Mercy’s Realm
that evaporates every separation and gathers into one,
the dominated with the divided,
the gated with the segregated, the distracted with the discounted,
the privileged with the persecuted people of God.
It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too because it is a foretaste of heaven. When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them.
May Lent lengthen in you a longing for the wholeness we sorely need,
Read more Still In the Storm reflections in a new JustFaith Ministries’ publication by Joe Grant.
Click here to order: Still In The Storm