The Heart of the Matter
by Rev. Kathie McCutcheon
“Breathe in the pain, breathe on out the love,
Let my heart be a place where this world is changed forever.”
(from the chorus of Michael Stillwater’s song “breathe”)
In my preparations for interfaith ministry, I wrestled with some doubts and questions. How can I faithfully represent and convey the wisdom in all the world’s religions, spiritualities, and philosophies, while staying true to my own conscience and experience of the great mysteries?
I sometimes have worried that I am missing essential tools from my ministerial toolbox, and that no matter how many books I read or trainings I take, it will not be enough and I may hurt rather than help. But then I return to my heart center and think back to all of the wonderful people who have ministered to me in my life. Their ministry has been rooted in the sacred wisdom of the wide-open heart. The qualities of such a heart are many, and are among the core skills that ministers use when serving the world: love… forgiveness… compassion… empathy… understanding… trust… wonder… generosity… patience.
We were all born to be mirrors of divine light, hollow bones, vessels for spirit. Everything, absolutely every experience we have ever had – the sublime or the unspeakable – has been leading us to this moment, when we bow before the Holy One with our hearts cracked open and say: “Here, take me, take my life and use me. I am your servant. As long as I am in your service, I will use the wisdom and skills of my heart to serve others.”
In her book The Sapphire Staff, Megan Wagner writes, “It is the heart that breaks open, falls in love, gasps in awe and wonder, and sings with beauty… Only the heart is able to humanize and personalize what comes from Spirit.”
I’m often reminded of Maya Angelou’s quote; “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
My heart will guide my ministry. As I cross this threshold, I vow to filter all of my senses and intellect through my open heart; to listen with the ears of my heart; to observe the world with compassion; and to speak my truths with gentleness.
May we all be blessed by the sacred wisdom of the wide-open heart.