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hearthandsThe first reading for this morning from the prophet Ezekiel (36: 23-28) is an encouraging promise that I hope for and work toward each day. God says through Ezekiel:

I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes…You shall be my people and I will be your God.

I am interested this morning especially in the contrast between stony hearts and natural hearts. That says to me that it is in the very make-up of our being to be kind rather than hard-hearted. If we are living as we are meant to, it would be most natural for us to function from our “heart place” – the center of our being, the compassionate center – rather than (although including) our mind, the center of rationality. Meister Eckhart, a great theologian who lived from 1260 to 1328, said once, “Whatever God does, the first outburst is always compassion.” Compassion means to “feel with” and here are some of the dictionary’s synonyms: sensitivity, empathy, fellow-feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, charity. That’s probably more than enough to get my point but interesting because there are nuances throughout that make compassion a very loud sound in God’s vocabulary. The meanings bring enough to us to reflect on for a very long time…maybe a good practice to begin today.