Opening Our Hearts

January 14, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Mother Teresa wrote:

“ Love is a fruit in season at all times

And within the reach of every hand.

Anyone may gather it

And no limit is set.

Everyone can reach this love

Through meditation

The spirit of prayer

And sacrifice,

By an intense inner life.


Do we really live this life?”


In a few words, Teresa gives us a vision of a life lived in love.  She tells us it is there for taking.  We all have access to it.  It is unlimited.

Yet, looking in the mirror,  I realize how I do not live it and access it.  I fall far short of the mark.  I read about it. Pray about it. But do not follow her prescription as I should.  There is a need to live the intense inner life, to pray, meditate and sacrifice.

Her quote comes from a chapter in Everything Starts from Prayer called “Opening Your Heart.”  Later in the chapter she writes  “ It is so easy to be proud, harsh, moody, and selfish, but we have been created for greater things; why stoop down to things that will spoil the beauty of our hearts?”  Perhaps the intense inner life involves cultivating an awareness of our emotional life, listening to what it is telling us, how it may be directing us or controlling us, and holding it before God so that we find the way of purity.

Jesus came and told us that Kingdom of God is at hand and within.  The “intense inner life” of Teresa is a journey to the Kingdom of God within.

Rex Pai SJ writes “Prayer is a journey inward…We move toward deeper levels within us, towards the centre and core of our being where we meet the one who is waiting for us, the one who is the source of our being and the meaning of our life…prayer anchors us on God.”

Courage to Change on January 13 provides a similar message: “ Our group gives me great spiritual freedom because it encourages me to find a personal understanding of God, and to allow others the same freedom.  Until I could think of God in terms that were meaningful to me, I was not able to truly turn my life over to a Higher Power.   My concept of God evolves.  It changes and grows as I continue to change and grow.  How wonderful it is, for I now sense a Higher Power that is as alive as I am!  Never in my life did I dream of finding such a source of serenity, courage and wisdom.

There is a sense of unique purpose to my journey through life.  I am the only one who can live it, and I need the help of the God OF MY UNDERSTANDING in order to live it fully.  Grounded in faith, I can hold tight to my course and meet the future with confidence.

Once upon a time I was afraid to live life for myself.  This was because I did not know how to do it and thought that there was no one to show me.  Now I have a resource deep within me to guide me along life’s many roads.  I am not alone on my journey.”  The reading concludes with the following quote:

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”  – Albert Camus

Rex Pai continues writing about this journey inward to the invincible summer:  “ Prayer  makes us keep our heart at the lotus feet of the Lord while we plunge into the struggle of life ( Krishna’s advice to Arjuna in the Gita.)

We realize the words of wisdom spoken by little Anna of “Mister God” fame:  ‘People can only love outside and can only kiss outside, but God can love you right inside and can kiss you right inside.’

The inward journey, by its very nature, takes us outward, back to life—but with a renewed vision, a new sense of purpose, and a deeper commitment to work for a better world.  In ‘Longest Journey’ John Dalrymple brings this out very well:  ‘ The Christian who prays involves himself in a double journey, a journey inwards and a journey outwards.  The journey inwards is the journey from the issues of this world towards God.  It is a journey towards the mind of Christ beyond feelings of expediency or fear of what people will say, to truth itself.  It is followed by the journey outwards back from the depths where we meet God to the issues facing us in our everyday life,

A journey which we now undertake with a new sensitivity to the will of God in all things…

It is a two way exposure.  The journey inward exposes us to God and the journey outwards pitches us back into God’s world, and as with all pendulums, the bigger swing towards God in prayer the bigger the swing back towards the problems and persons of this world.’”

As Mother Teresa asks  “Do we really live this life?”

The heart in Christian spirituality is where we meet God within.  It is beyond discursive reasoning and the intellectual abstractions of our minds.  We embrace God with our hearts in a way that is beyond the grasp of our minds.  Buddhism also talks about this awakened heart.  Pema Chodron says “ No matter how committed we are to unkindness, selfishness, or greed, the genuine heart cannot be lost.  It is …never marred and completely whole. ..When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself.”  Doesn’t this sound like how God reveals himself to us?  How God’s light comes to us in darkness?  God provides hope in the midst of bleakness.

Much like Rex Pai describes above the two way exposure of the journey inward exposing us to God and a journey outward to embrace the pain and people of the world, so too does Pema Chodron describe the awakened heart as “equated, in part, with compassion—our ability to feel the pain that we share with others.  Without realizing it we continually shield ourselves from this pain because it scares us. ..we erect protective walls made out of strategies, opinions, prejudices, and emotions.  Yet just as a jewel that has been buried in the earth for a million years is not discolored or harmed, in the same way this …heart is not affected by all of the ways we try to protect ourselves from it.  The jewel can be brought out into the light at any time, and it will glow as brilliantly as if nothing had ever happened.  This tenderness for life…awakens when we no longer shield ourselves from the vulnerability of our condition, from the basic fragility of existence. It awakens through kinship with the suffering of others…we become open that we can take the pain of the world in, let it touch our hearts, and turn it into compassion…” and put love into each moment of every day.

All of the above were the readings from four different sources  with which I started my day.  They are intertwined.  It is the Holy Spirit teaching and guiding.  Rex Pai finished his meditation with the following prayer:

God of life and love,

You know me and you understand me through and through;

You know everything I do or say, everything I think or desire;

‘Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding’ (Ps 139)

You invite each one of us and challenge us to an exploration

Of our inner space and to an ongoing discovery of you as the God of our heart;

In discovering you, we more truly discover ourselves;

In discovering ourselves, we progressively discover other persons and our world.

May our inner journey liberate us from being absorbed in ourselves and our own interests.

May it take us towards others in concern and service and bring to realization the kingdom promised by Your Son Jesus.

May we like Teresa really live this life.  Amen.