We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

hard of heart

A Northwoods Reflection on the Fast to End Torture

This morning, as I put another log on the fire, I gleefully grabbed a huge piece of wood from our wood-box. I was gleeful because the wood was dry, and hard, and would last longer than other options. As I picked up the piece of wood, I realized the heart of the piece of wood was completely attached.

Suddenly, childhood memories rushed in and I was ten and standing with my dad in the middle of our 40 acre forest cutting wood. My dad would cut down a dead tree, while I adventured and explored, safely distant. After it fell, he would cut it into segments with a chainsaw, and then split it with an ax. By this time, I was close by to help stack pieces or set them up for him to split. He had a special fight with the heartwood of the tree, and I can clearly remember him explaining it to me. "You see it, Punk? The circle in the middle, the different color? That's the heart of the tree! It's the hardest wood, stronger than the rest.. You see how it won't break up?"

As I put the log on the fire this morning, and as I hauled wood this morning, I paid special attention to the heartwood in each split piece of wood. The different colors, the strength that somehow allows the heart to remain together despite the splitter...

And I wondered if I were to be split, if my heart would be as strong? Is my heart the center to my being, that cannot be split despite axes that may come at me? Is it the core of my being, moving me to stand for more and be more?

I pray often for my stony heart to be made flesh. For God to continue to move me more in compassion and love. But rarely do I pray for a strong heart. A courageous heart. A heart that will not split or crumble. And to follow Christ and love as He calls, I think this may be a necessary prayer.

When I pray with the stories of the men in Guantanamo, and when I listen to their stories and watch news clips, I am amazed at their strong hearts. Their wounded hearts, wounded bodies, wounded souls that do not yield to the worst injustices. The strength of my heart is tested during this small period of isolation from community and fast (I'm eating one meal per day and liquids). Their hearts, though pierced, persevere through times of much greater trial.

As our bodies may weaken, I pray that the God of love, mercy and creation will bless our hearts with a strength that cannot be broken. A strength that unites, a strength that creates, a strength that upholds us in a crumbling world and calls us to be more.

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