“Unpacking my Heart with Words”

When I started blogging I shared that I was doing so as a spiritual enterprise. I shared a quote from Job, that my “heart was like a taut wine-skin, full of words, about to burst” and noted that, borrowing a line from Shakepeare, I was going to “unpack my heart with words.”

And this endeavor has been very rewarding. I have learned so much about myself in part because I have made some very interesting friends from around the world who offer encouragement and gracious criticism. When we are dealing with matters of the heart we need feedback and that feedback does not need to come from an echo chamber.

“Unpacking my heart with words” brings to my mind a belief I used to have when I first began to explore the world of psychology and clinical practice. At that point I had the idea that therapy was merely a matter of exploring one’s heart, learning what one’s issues were, reaching an “aha” moment, and then going merrily along one’s way having been, for want of a better term, “enlightened”. But now I see how naïve that view was for therapy, or spiritual practice, is a life long process and that one never “arrives”, one never “gets there” has the luxury of taking solace in ensconcing oneself in spiritual bliss. It is always a process and is always underway. It makes me think of the New Testament admonishment to “Be filled with the Spirit of God” which a pastor of old explained that in the Greek it actually means, “Be ye ‘being filled’ with the Spirit.” In other words, one should always be “being filled: with the Spirit of God.

Re “unpacking my heart with words”, I used to think that at some point the task would be complete and the heart would be unpacked. Well, yes, at some point it gets unpacked of the burdens that are weighing on the heart at that moment. BUT, guess what? Immediately there are more that surface! For the “heart” is not a concrete phenomena, it does not dwell in time and space, it is an infinite domain, it is that part of our life in which our infinite nature, the God who is within, intersects with the finite world. We will spend the rest of our life exploring that infinite world, that part of our life which Jesus called the “belly out of which shall flow rivers of living water.”

We must beware of obsessing with the quest though. We must pay attention to what surfaces from the heart, give it due attention, discuss it with spiritual mentors and close friends, pray about it, and then drop it for the time and turn out attention to the day-to-day responsibilities of life, the infinitely important mundane tasking of “chopping wood, carrying water.” If we don’t have this balance, our spiritual endeavors will evolve into merely a narcissistic endeavor, a function of the ego designed to make us ostentatiously holy which is exactly what the the Pharisees did.

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5 thoughts on ““Unpacking my Heart with Words”

    1. literary lew Post author

      And I love your blog…and just subscribed even though I’ve vowed to stop subscribing. Have done so too often. But I want to check you out from time to time. Nice work. And you certainly know how to “pique cupidity”!

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  1. Sandeep Bhalla

    Philosophy without application is like a grape without juice. But it gives such a sensational pleasure that people visit temples/churches/etc. to listen to same discourse again and again without translating it into practical action. Some go merely for davine benediction, without bothering to pay attention to discourse. To me, there is no difference in watching television and listening to such discourse.
    There is however a problem. If practical application is told, it becomes a religious symbol which continues beyond its time and place.
    The most religious action is to see things clearly without interferance of our own prejudices which is ‘ego’.
    BTW did you study Transactional Analysis of Eric Berne? His experiments about stimuli and reaction?

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  2. N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ

    A heartfelt post, Lew. I love that line from Shakespeare.

    It takes one who is gifted to capture the essence of thought and transfer it into words. I think you are one of those gifted. Personally, I identify with these two quotes:

    “There is immeasurably more left inside than what comes out in words”
    ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

    and

    “How strangely do we diminish a thing as soon as we try to express it in words.”
    ~Maurice Maeterlinck

    You wrote: “We must beware of obsessing with the quest though.”

    That’s so true. I think we must also beware of obsessing with thoughts. In his book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle wrote:

    “When you don’t cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life that was lost a long time ago when humanity, instead of using thought, became possessed by thought.”

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