The Sacred Heart
There are thousands of images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but I have yet to find one like the one below. If look closely, the Jesus at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco is looking right at you. His posture is giving as much as receiving. When Jesus is shown looking up at the heavens, I understand the intent is to show he is communicating with God. But, my upbringing in the Quaker tradition taught us that the light is within us, God is within us, Christ is within us, not in some lofty place in the sky. So, for me, the painting at St. Ignatius says, God is right here between you and me, that we share the light, we are the light, and the heart is where God lives because God is love, and we all share this connection… the heart is more than a glorious pump!
To be clear, I can’t call myself a Christian anymore than I can call myself a Buddhist (I am a practitioner of insight meditation and sit weekly with a group led by John Martin here in San Francisco), or any other religion I have found inspiration in (Santeria, Hinduism, Sikhism, Muslim and Jewish Faiths, and many more). I simply can’t believe that, if there is a higher power, that it chooses one sect or one book or one prophet over another.
I have found a few great masters of love who have embodied my beliefs about love as a higher power – I will share a few here.
The Kingdom of Love
There are a thousand ways in which to acquire knowledge but it is only necessary to love in order to become wise. Knowledge demands a reply to the problems before which it stands baffled; love seeks only to serve and to it nothing is denied. To those who love us we yield the innermost secret of our souls, knowing that our most intimate treasure is safe in the hands of love to whom all is sacred; and thus it is that when we love become naked to love’s altar and feel no shame in the revelation of our poverty, knowing that we have brought our all and realizing that to the eyes of love there is no wealth but worship.
Love is the recognition of something greater than ourselves, something that lends all life its beauty, something that endures beyond the reach of death, and in the contemplation of this mystery we lose all thought of self and seek only to become one with it for ever. It is when we love, therefore, and only when we love, that we lose that cunning manipulation of our knowledge which we term worldly wisdom and which is in truth merely a weapon with which we seek to enforce the satisfaction of our selfish demands. When we love we live those values which previously were largely theoretical and so our lives become representative of our souls; then it is that we are amazed to discover the countless, invisible ties uniting ourselves with other and then we become aware of the spiritual brotherhood of man and so realize that no man lives unto himself alone.
Note: The author of this is unknown – I only have one photo-copied page from an old book that my Grandfather owned, with his own notes scribbled on it. If anyone knows the source – please tell me – I have been searching for it for years.
“I cannot say I believe in God, but now I cannot say that I do not believe in a “Moving Spirit”, an ineffable Creative Consciousness, which seems to me to be what God is all about. I think it’s all about people and vulnerableness to Life. Rarely have I encountered the spiritual nakedness which makes possible happiness in simply being alive in a church or any other “house of worship”. It is significant to me that I find it in Meeting – the absence of personal paraphernalia and “equipment” that one experiences in the face of love, the presence only of caring. From whence springs all kinds of renewal and without which life would be a wilderness.”
– Cella Alderson
A few of my favorite quotes:
“The universe, which is not merely the stars and the moon and the planets, flowers, grass, and trees, but all the people, has evolved no terms for your existence, has made no room for you, and if love will not swing wide the gates, no other power will or can.”
– James A. Baldwin
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967 Lecture Opposing War (Taken from “All About Love,” by Bell Hooks)
– Thomas Merton
– Eric Fromm
– Bell Hooks, All About Love: New Visions