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centerheartI remember a song from my mother’s repertoire whose refrain sang: “You’re close to me here, but where is your heart?” The physical heart is what keeps us alive and we know where that lives and how important it is to take care of it. In the last few days I’ve heard of a number of people having heart attacks or heart surgery – all quite serious events. Obviously, however, the question from my mother’s song is about something else.

The heart is universally accepted as the symbol of love. Catholic spirituality speaks of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, energy workers see the heart chakra as the center of the body from which love radiates, spiritual teachers the world over use the heart to refer to the Divine. We are urged to “open your heart and your pocketbook” in times of national disasters and many of us pray each day, asking God to open our hearts to the needs of our neighbors near and far.

Today, the psalmist calls us to take the responsibility for that opening in psalm 95, singing: If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts! Cynthia Bourgeault, in her book The Wisdom Way of Knowing, calls the heart an organ of perception, the center from where we learn to move toward union with the Source of all Life. The process of that daily dance toward the center is not linear, not easy, but the reward of hearing that music, singing that song, softening our hearts is nothing less than everything.