Last night Mark Scandrette, the godfather himself, led us in the sixth beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Have you been looking forward to this night to finally understand why the motion for pure in heart is “jazz hands?”
We opened the night praying through Matthew 7 and singing Stu G’s “Oh Blessed.” We examined our hearts and reflected on two challenging questions: (1) To whom have we struggled to show grace this week?, and (2) What might God be saying to us through this person?
With that, Mark offered a vision of the kingdom that invites us to live with full, undivided hearts. He reminded us of the way we lived as children. We stood on chairs buck naked eating cereal without shame. We danced with reckless abandon without considering who might be looking.
But at some point in our lives, we learned to hide. The experiences of life led us to hold back our true selves from the world and to put on masks. But the kingdom reality is that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each of us is a unique and beautiful creation, living in the tender and loving gaze of our creator.
Mark invited us to do the work of living with pure hearts through the following kingdom practices:
- Daily Examen – Practice the Examen each day with a focus on living in God’s loving gaze.
- Begin with reviewing your day in gratitude.
- Ask on when you were aware of the caring presence and loving gaze of your creator.
- Reflect on when you found yourself withdrawing, or forgetting that “in God I live and move and have my being.”
- Finally, sit for 10 minutes with your eyes closed. Focus on your breath with the intention to be in the light of God’s presence. Pay attention to whatever thoughts or images arise in your mind, and observe them under the tender and loving gaze of your creator. If you find yourself overwhelmed by thoughts of guilt or shame, consider whether those come from the authentic voice of God or from the distorted images of God you have rehearsed.
- Secrecy – Knowing that why we do things is as important as what we do, Jesus often encouraged his followers to keep their acts of goodness and devotion a secret. Practicing secrecy can help us refine our motives. First, consider the ways you typically look for attention or affirmation for doing what is good. Then make a conscious decision to keep these actions secret this week. You may: leave the people you live or work with guessing about who washed the dishes or emptied the garbage, refrain from posting images on social media that promote your nobility, or keep quiet about your prayers, fasting or volunteer work.
- Good boundaries – When we live with divided hearts, we may to say yes because we are afraid to disappoint others, or we may say no because we are afraid to lose control. This is why Jesus said let your yes be yes and your no, no. Think about the situations in your life where you feel divided between what your heart says and how your mouth speaks. If you often say yes, because you’re afraid of disappointing others, find something to say no to this week. If you often say no because you’re afraid of losing control, push yourself to say yes this week.
Mark then led us in the Examen practice. The lights were dimmed, and for ten minutes we rested in God’s loving gaze. We lifted our eyes to God. The lights came up and the light of God’s tenderness filled us as we turned to the table.
Grace and peace,
Jason and The Practice Team