Friday, June 17, 2011

A Sacred Romance in the Deeper Places of Our Hearts

“The inner life, the story of our heart, is the life of the deep places within us, our passions and dreams, our fears and our deepest wounds. It is the unseen life, the mystery within – what Buechner calls our “shimmering self.” It cannot be managed like a corporation. The heart does not respond to principles and programs; it seeks not efficiency, but passion. Art, poetry, beauty, mystery, ecstasy: These are what rouse the heart. Indeed, they are the language that must be spoken if one wishes to communicate with the heart. It is why Jesus so often taught and related to people by telling stories and asking questions. His desire was not just to engage their intellects but to capture their hearts. Indeed, if we will listen a Sacred Romance calls to us through our heart every moment of our lives. It whispers to us on the wind, invites us through the laughter of good friends, reaches out to us through the touch of someone we love. We’ve heard it in our favorite music, sensed it at the birth of our first child, been drawn to it while watching the shimmer of a sunset on the ocean. The Romance is even present in times of great personal suffering: the illness of a child, the loss of a marriage, the death of a friend. Something calls to us through experiences like these and rouses an inconsolable longing deep within our heart, wakening in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty, and adventure. This longing is the most powerful part of any human personality. It fuels our search for meaning, for wholeness, for a sense of being truly alive. However we may describe this deep desire, it is the most important thing about us, our heart of hearts, the passion of our life. And the voice that calls to us in this place is none other than the voice of God.”

Many years ago, during a time of midlife crisis, God graciously broke through into my soul.  Early one morning after a night of fitful sleep, I began to see a vision of my heart at two levels.  The crevices of the deeper region were mostly packed in with decades of debris.  On top of this hard crust, I had piled on the outer workings of my daily life: wife, home school mother of 10, homemaker, church member, writer, and other duties.  I realized that even in my spiritual life of Scripture study and prayer (which have been so very valuable), I often live in the “oughts” and not from true desire or spiritual passion.  As I wrote these newer insights into my journal, the crust to the deeper places started to crack open. Visiting a friend later that day, I tried to put into words what I felt God was saying to me.  Her mouth dropped open, and she ran to get a book she had just started reading.  I flipped through the pages, and my mouth dropped open. Everything I had just tried to say, everything I had just written in my own journal, I found on the pages of the book she handed to me, The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge.  The quote above is from a chapter by Brent Curtis.

When I included this quote in an article I wrote back in July 2006, a friend at the church we were attending then wasn't too pleased that I would refer positively to a book by co-author John Eldredge.  She even e-mailed the pastors to ask them to keep an eye on me.  Well, I guess that's one way of getting attention! ;-)  I found it ironic a few years later to find the exact same quote in a book called One Thing: Developing a Passion for the Beauty of God by Sam Storms, an author whose books were promoted in the pulpit and sold in the church bookstore.  I'm not saying I agree with everything that Eldredge has ever written, but this quote from that book reached deep inside of me at such a critical moment in my life.  It was like a life line thrown to a drowning woman, and certainly a milestone in a complete paradigm shift that was taking place in my life then.  This and many other things eventually led to us leaving that church last year.  And the quote, which was from a chapter by Brent Curtis, still speaks to me.  A friend shared a different quote from The Sacred Romance on Facebook this morning, and it brought my own favorite quote from it back to mind.  I'm so glad that I took the opportunity to go back and read it, think about it, and share it in a few places.  I know I will be pondering on it more in the days to come, and I hope you will, too.

Life is not a dry system, folks. It's not even all about rooting out the sin in our lives so that we can be acceptable to God and others.  It's not about rules of hierarchy and control and spiritual authority.  It's not about religion.  It's not about sharing pat spiritual band-aid answers with friends who are hurting. 

It's about experiencing the 
                         and LOVE of our heavenly Father 
                            that he has offered through Jesus.  

No one can do that for you.  No one can write your life script for you.  No one can ever know you and love you like God does.  If like me, it feels like that kind of life has been quenched out of you again, maybe it is time to sit and soak in it once more?

If these words resonate with you, please read my poems It Became to Me a Dark Thing and This Is My Song and I Sing and visit my blog where I often address the themes of beauty and the deeper life.   

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment or send me an e-mail!

Virginia Knowles

1 comment:

  1. Virginia: The only book I completely agree with, perhaps, is the Bible. Others are written by people. Your comment that The Sacred Romance “reached deep inside of me at such a critical moment in my life” was a good thing. God uses people in our lives; if John Eldredge is one of them, thank God. We should make sure we are listening