In a wonderful post entitled "On open-heartedness," Kelly says:
"But, the world [she's referring to Yeats' "Tread softly because you tread on my dreams..."] treads as it will regardless of our sensitivity. Should we then, close up and refuse to love humanity or be enthralled by the wonder of the work of God? No, all the more should we open our heart to love, and beauty, and even pain. Give everything, love all, no matter how ugly or painful or awful. Love every person in every image of war and pain that comes our way; love the victim and the perpetrator, embrace it all, as God does.
For there, and there only, is a better dream, and all the cloths of heaven."
To me, the way of prayer is the way of this totally defenceless vulnerability... as a friend of mine once put it, true intercessors have less layers of skin than other people. To stand before God completely open-hearted and open-handed, weeping unashamedly, is really the only option left to us.
All this reminds me, yet again, of the words of St Isaac of Nineveh, the 7th century solitary. I've quoted these in this blog at least twice before, but I'm not about to apologise...
An elder was once asked, "What is a merciful heart?" He replied:
"It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation.
For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns with without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God."