Connecting with Culture
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‘The pupil comes to the rabbi and asks, “Why does Torah tell us to ‘place these words upon our hearts’? Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?”
‘The rabbi answers, “It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay, until, one day, the heart breaks, and the words fall in.”’
It’s often the case that our own break-throughs seem to happen when we, ourselves, break open, isn’t it?
Certainly, some of the more spiritually mature people I’ve known seem also to be those who’ve gone through a disintegration of sorts. In the process, they’ve become more soulfully connected to life, somehow. Their words may sometimes be fewer, but any they do care to speak arise from deeper down within those opened hearts.
This has been, without doubt, a time of breaking open; if not for us personally, then almost certainly for some of those we know and love.
And we’re all affected, in different ways. We’ve all experienced disorientation. We’ve all lost direct contact with people we love. Many still have no physical contact with others. There’s a place for keeping calm and carrying on, but there’s time enough to honour sorrow, too.
It doesn’t have to be an individual heart that’s hurting, either. Families, of course, and friendship groups have suffered; churches will know grief within their communities; organisations have lost work and people; villages, towns and cities, even nations – each are having their own experience deepened.
I think of the words of the Aaronic blessing that have flowed so beautifully through the world, in song, this season. So often, it’s when ‘all is well’ that we perceive God’s blessing in our lives. But how resonant, those words, from within a place where all is not?
Perhaps we can treasure those words that may have rested gently on our hearts, awaiting the time they fall a little further into place. May we thus be open, within this historic opening. And may, indeed:
‘the LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face towards you
and give you peace.’
For details about Brian’s work, visit www.briandraper.org