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.