Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fasting of the heart…

Fasting of the heart means hearing, but not with the ear... The hearing that is only in the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another. But the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind. Fasting of the heart empties the faculties, frees you from limitation and from preoccupations. Fasting of the heart begets unity and freedom... If you can do this, you will be able to go among men in their world without upsetting them. You will not enter into conflict with their ideal image of themselves...

Look at this window. It is nothing but a hole in the wall, but because of it the whole room is full of light. So when the faculties are empty, the heart is full of light. Being full of light, it becomes an influence, by which others are secretly transformed.

The Way of Chuang Tzu Thomas Merton, with thanks to Diane Walker

Fasting of the heart… I have hesitated to post here, because I haven’t had the words for what has been happening within by own heart. Perhaps a kind of fasting is the best way to describe it. So much that we mistake for certainty is in fact preconception, and we cling to our preconceptions as to lifebelts in the great wash of God’s presence.

We do not realise the vastness of God – at least, I don’t – the sheer appalling otherness of this istigkeit we presume to worship.

Aslan is no tame lion, as CS Lewis reminded us. Our Lord’s incarnation is often said to dissolve the distances between God and man, but what kind of a man was it his disciples, the women and men who walked and ate and drank with him day in and day out, actually knew? He terrified them on occasion (Matthew 14:22-33), struck them witless with awe (Luke 9:23-33), baffled them (John 6.43-68), and, after his resurrection, was at times simply unrecognisable (Luke 24.15-16; John 20.14-15).

“…what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” as the Psalmist (8.4) says. A presence so great that he encompasses the galaxies, the vast interstellar chasms, and yet knows and cares for the fall of a sparrow… What can we know of such a presence, except what we are shown by him?

Tiny and broken, what can we cry but, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner?


Hope said...

"So much that we mistake for certainty is in fact preconception"

This has hit home for me so much in the past two months that I feel like I've lost my way.About the only thing I feel certain of is that there is a God and I'm not it.

Mike Farley said...

Oh, Hope, I see you have really been walking these strange ways yourself. Your 'Burlap Bag' post is one of the most moving things I've read for a long time. Prayers for your recovery!