The Way of Peace

8. Heart and soul

“Purity of heart is to will one thing.”
— Soren Kierkegaard

This post has been on tap for years; I’ve come to feel the time to write it is now.  On the one hand, however, I hardly feel I know what I’m talking about.  I can see the goal, I can point to it, I can admire it, but I hardly have any idea how to get there.  On the other hand, there are multiple directions from which to approach the subject, which fact doesn’t lend itself to the linear-sequential proneness of written words.

So, this may not be the best presentation.

In question is a dynamic that has profound pertinence to the effectiveness of one’s desires, the effectiveness of one’s prayers, the effectiveness of one’s life.

Ambrose Worrall: faith as unobstructed desire

In “Silentium Altum,” Ambrose Worrall offers what he calls his personal definition of faith:

Faith is the lack of resistance to that which you hope to receive.

Now, that contrasts with my own personal definition of faith, namely, integrity, walking one’s talk.  But he’s talking about “faith” in a different sense, in the sense meant by those who love to quote, “If you have faith like a mustard seed, you can [move mountains].”

One’s desires go forth into the cosmos, and there may be greater or less resistance to one’s meeting that which one desires.

If I were to desire a date with Nicki Minaj, there would in fact be tremendous concrete resistance to my meeting that outcome.  That’s one kind of resistance.

From my observations, far more common and serious is internal, emotional resistance within one’s own soul.  The Greek word most commonly translated as “doubt” in the New Testament actually refers not to skepticism, but rather ambivalence.  Reservations, fears or mixed feelings about what one may think one wants, weaken or interfere with the effectiveness of one’s desire.

It is desirable to establish unobstructed desire, for any thing one may want.

A laser

… derives its power, its effectiveness, from the fact that the beam of light it emits is exceptionally coherent.  Now, for most of us, that term requires some explanation, and I admit that some of it may be even beyond me.

On the one hand, the term “coherent” itself actually means “sticking together.”  The simplest example of this is the difference between laser light and light from a conventional light source, such as a flashlight or headlight.  The latter emit beams of light that quickly spread out or disperse over broad areas, to the extent that from some distance they may no longer even be visible.  The light beam from a laser, in contrast, “sticks together” so drastically that if it begins with the diameter of a pencil lead, if one aims it at a mirror on the Moon, by the time that reflection returns, the beam may be no broader than the thickness of a pencil itself.

Other features of “coherence” make that possible.  The light waves, or photons, that come from a laser beam are all of the same frequency or wavelength or color, in contrast to those from a conventional light source which are of many different wavelengths.  They are also all “in synch” with one another, which would be impossible if they had many different wavelengths.  The photons of a laser beam are also all traveling in the same direction, again in contrast to those from a different kind of light source.

Finally, in contrast to the light waves from a conventional light source, those in a laser beam are all oriented the same way in space, vibrating in parallel planes.  This can be challenging to explain.  They are said to be “polarized.”  If you think of the face of a clock, light waves from a normal source may be vibrating back and forth some between the 12 and the 6, others between the 10 and the 4, still others between the 9 and the 3, and so on — many different directions.  In laser light, they’re all oriented the same way, whether all between the 10 and the 4, or all between the 7 and the 1, or so on; all the same way.

The upshot of all this is that they are most prone to reinforce or strengthen each other, and least prone to interfere with or weaken each other.  There is no internal resistance in a laser beam.

It is desirable that all one’s thoughts, feelings and actions concerning any given goal become like that also.  If I’m happy, I need to want the one thing.  If I’m sad, I need still to want the same thing.  If I’m angry, I need still to want the same thing.  If I’m anxious, I still need to want the same thing.

Then I will be pure of heart.

Huey Lewis

… covered a song written by Michael Donald Chapman and Nicholas Barry Chinn, entitled “Heart and Soul.”  I have copied the lyrics at the end of this post.  It tells of a woman who shows up unannounced at a man’s home in the middle of the night, with one single intent:  to seduce him.

She succeeds, based wholly on her single-mindedness.  Every impulse, every word, every feeling, every thought, every look, every gesture, is directed toward this one goal.  There is no ambivalence, no reservation, no inconsistency.

I can withhold approval or disapproval of her libertine ways.  Her effectiveness is beyond dispute:

She gets what she wants
‘Cause she’s heart and soul.

In other words, she’s pure of heart.

Current intrapersonal conflicts

Here are some of the ambivalences I am dealing with myself just now.

1. The church garden

I haven’t spent substantial time out there in months, but the reports that are coming to me are dire.  We have a beautiful half-acre garden, including a designated “prayer labyrinth.”  Extensive efforts are ongoing to expand the beautification.

The prayer labyrinth in particular, however, has essentially been taken over by a population of addicts who defy description.  Now, we’ve been dealing with various people who come there to use drugs, for a long time.  There are addicts, and there are addicts.  Some will use trash cans if they’re available, and cap their used needles and take them with them when they leave.  Others bring lots of trash with them, like rats, and merely toss and leave their used needles anywhere.

The current population are insolent, defiant, and disrespectful.  No appeal to reason; to decency; to the fact that it’s a garden; to the fact that it’s a church garden; to the fact that people pray, and children play, there; to the fact that it’s not their space; has any effect.  Their only awareness is of the desire to get and stay high.

I’m talking about people who will go through the entire process of taking out their “works,” “cooking” the heroin, filling the needle, injecting oneself (possibly in one’s privates) — right there while you’re talking with them; and meanwhile spew you with a stream of obscenities.

Let’s see, now, where was I?  Oh, yes: the church garden.

And there may be two or three people doing that at once, and they’ll be back 90 minutes later doing it all again.

We can want to help them.
We can want to “humanize” them.
We can wish they’d change their ways.
We can want them to find their way into treatment.
Nothing we can want for them will matter unless these individuals want the same thing.

Related:  Treatment resistant

For myself, I’ve concluded that the thing for me to want about them, is that they just go away.  Just be gone.

God has taken care of me.
Wherever they go, God will take care of them.

We have already done everything we can for them.
They may be physically at hand,
but cognitively and affectively, they’re out of reach.

There need be no outrage, no indignation, no anger, no grief.
Just go.

The crux: those of us who care about the situation, must be unanimous in this desire.
Any ambivalence about it, on anyone’s part, only decreases the likelihood that it will happen.

2. Housing search

Finding conventional housing is the one thing I can do now most likely to improve my own situation.  On the one hand, I have much less desire for that as an end in itself, than as a means to a different end: in order to market myself for a career in radio, to become William Tell, I really need a far more stable living situation, where I can come and go as I please and am not subject to the shelter’s rigid time restrictions.

On the other hand, I meet ambivalence about it, for reason that the remaining places available to me to check out may land me in a location where it’s hard to get to and from my current church.  Emotionally, this is a big, big deal, and I’ve already seen myself do emotional somersaults about it, and entertain ideas that were absolutely crazy in order to rationalize this or that response to the dilemma.

The pattern of my life: everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve been active in a congregation within walking distance of my home.  This has appeared to me to represent karma from many lives (incarnations) lived as an orthodox Jew: it’s essential that such a person live within walking distance of the shul.  Whether or not that’s so, it seems to be a pattern that’s unlikely to change.

And I’ve been active in my current congregation for nigh on 40 years.  And as even the previous passage displays, have been deeply committed to its mission.

My options seem to be as follows:
(1) Hold off on seeking work in radio until acceptable housing becomes available within easy reach of my current church; or
(2) Take the first acceptable housing that becomes available, regardless of location, accepting that this may mean I wind up attending worship elsewhere.

There is the additional complication that I have been ambivalent about becoming William Tell, which fact powerfully impacts my motivation to seek conventional housing at all.

3. Becoming William Tell

This situation changed during the composition of this post.

My worries about becoming William Tell have focused on two questions:  “What can I do?” and “What will God do?”

I have had exceptionally lofty expectations for William Tell.

To the end of creating “A Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for Adults,” it is finally incumbent on me to love every caller, no matter how objectionable her or his expressions may be.  This is not normal.  There have been serious doubts about my ability to do it.  Very substantial growth in this regard has occurred in very recent weeks.

The next part gets spooky.

Ever since soon after I became interested in healing prayer, I have longed to become able to heal with words — to pronounce the word that heals, as Jesus did in the story of the centurion’s servant (Luke 7).   I have longed that William Tell do that from time to time.  Now, on the one hand, I have an extensive track record of doing just that.

Related: I really have nothing better to do.

On the other hand, these events, this prophecy, is nothing “I” do.  The words never come from my conscious mind or will.  They are spontaneous, automatic and involuntary.

Related: False prophecy in the news

I am, in these moments, like the lightning rod described in “Prayer primer.”  The most I can do is to optimize my composition and put myself in a position  to provide a “path of least resistance” between the unseen world and human need.  The anxiety has been, if I do this, will God do that?

In a recent silence focused on these questions, it came to me that so long as I cling to these doubts, I will never have peace of mind.  Letting them go — obtains peace of mind, but does not bring any change in my sense of my career goals whatsoever.  So I let them go.

All that said, this passage has still been very difficult for me to write.

I am not yet pure of heart.

“You come, too.”

In years past, sometimes I had an intrapersonal conflict when facing some adult task, like cleaning house.  The inner child would object, pout, cross his arms and stomp his feet because he didn’t want to do it.  Actually, it turned out, he was more concerned about being left out or left behind.  I learned to resolve this by becoming the inner parent, taking the child by the hand and saying, “You come, too.  You can help.  You can be a good helper.”  So the inner child is included, and welcomed, and can make his contribution.

I normally mop and scrub floors by sitting on my haunches and — going at it.  It becomes playtime, however, if I treat the bucket, brush and water basically as toys.

Sacrifice: The pearl of great price

Matthew 13:

45“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

All dissonant “vibes” and impulses can be consumed (or spent) in the choice of the one thing one wants most of all.


Related:  Leadership, Patton and Jesus:  The centurion was pure of heart.


Heart and Soul

Two o’clock this morning (morning)
If she should come a-calling (calling)
I couldn’t dream of turning her away

And if it got hot and hectic (hectic)
I know she’d be electric (electric)
I’d let her take her chances with me
You see, she gets what she wants

‘Cause she’s heart and soul
She’s hot and cold
She’s got it all, hot loving every night

Well, can’t you see her standing there (standing there)
See how she looks, see how she cares (how she cares)
I let her steal the night away from me

Nine o’clock this morning (this morning)
She left without a warning (warning)
I let her take advantage of me
You see, she got what she wanted

‘Cause she’s heart and soul
She’s hot and cold
She’s got it all, hot loving every night

(Heart and soul)
Yeah she’s heart and soul
She’s hot and cold
She’s got it all
She’s heart and soul

She’s got loving every night
She’s got it all
She’s heart and soul

She’s heart and soul
She’s heart and soul
She’s heart and soul
She’s heart and soul
She’s heart and soul
[fade out]