Yesterday, two of my dearest friends came for a visit. These friends and I had started meeting to discuss a book, but when we finished the book we discovered that our meetings were really about relationship and not so much about the book. So we decided we would continue to keep our monthly meetings on the calendar, and yesterday was our first meeting without a book.
There are just three of us in this group–two women and one man. It became clear to me why we wanted to keep meeting when the other woman in our little group gave me a gift that she had picked up in New Mexico. It was a very beautifully painted “sacred heart!” Now this friend knows that I am passionate about the symbol of the Sacred Heart. I have a whole collection of them hanging in my breakfast room and kitchen. The fact that she thought of me while she was traveling in New Mexico touched my own heart and reminded me of why I love this symbol. It helps me to be aware of the “unified field of love” that we all are a part of. The theologian, Richard Rohr, says that the concentration of attention in the heart is the starting point of prayer. I think this is true because it is also the start of all meaningful relationships as opposed to contractual arrangements.
It is often easy for me to discern this unified field of love in my close friends and family, but if as Rohr says we are all part of this field of love, then I should be able to see it everywhere. Yesterday I went to Starbucks to get a coffee. I have developed the habit of ordering on the app during the pandemic in order to limit contact as much as possible. So in the beginning I would run into the store, grab my drink and leave as fast as I could. I still do all of that but at a much slower pace. The baristas and I know each other and so always wish each other well and often call each other by name. Yesterday, I decided to pick up another coffee in the afternoon. Since my purchase was at a different time, I did not know the baristas, but as I was walking out with my drink, I noticed my name carefully, and yes, it seemed to me, even lovingly, written on the lid of my cup. This made me aware of all the acts of loving kindness that are done for us and by us on any given day. Often we are unaware of these acts of kindness but they are part of the energizing force of the universe. We call this Force by many names: God, Lord, Buddha, Mystery; no matter what we choose to call this Force it is the manifestation of Love.
This week in my spiritual direction group, we read a poem about some prison inmates who had discovered a tiny sprout growing from an apple seed in the cracked concrete. These men were filled with wonder at the life force present in this single apple seed that now was sprouting into a plant. They lovingly planted it in an empty ice cream cup filled with tea leaves–the only growing medium they had. The poem by Nancy Miller Gomez,
tells us that “the men are tipsy with this miracle,” and that “All through the day they return// to stand over the seedling// and whisper.” The awe and wonder these inmates displayed over the miracle of the sprouting apple seed and the loving kindness with which they nurtured it uncovered the sacred heart in each of them and in the life force that caused the little seed to sprout.
This made me wonder how many miracles I miss every day–how many manifestations of the Sacred Heart I fail to appreciate. What would the world be like if instead of receiving in a perfunctory manner all the many actions that others do for us on any given day, we instead looked at them in the same way the men regarded the apple seed sprout? What if we regarded each other with the reverence the prisoners showed as they watched the progress of “the struggling plant”? Then we would be awake to the unified field of love that supports us all, and we would see the “Sacred Heart” in everything.