There is a saying that is particularly apropos of the Colorado Front Range: “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” We can have snowflakes one moment, sleet the next, hail the next, rain the next, and then always a return to our characteristic blue skies that inspired the country oldie, “baby blue was the color of her eyes, baby blue like Colorado skies…” Sometimes it will be snowing on one side of my house and sleeting on the other. It’s the same precipitation, coming from the same cloud. It just looks different from one angle to the next.
In my life, mind and heart are like that. Actions and decisions look different depending on whether I view them from the perspective of mind or heart. The heart announces its intuitions immediately, not through language, but through flashes of insight. God told the frightened Moses, “I will be with your mouth and I will teach you what you are to speak.” My heart says, I will listen for these words, and I trust they will come. When they come, I will speak them.
My mind, as the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant points out, is not always engaged in mentoring me toward happiness. My overeducated mind is perfectly capable of wrangling over some question until I’m drained of energy. There’s a reason wrestling matches have a time limit. Everybody goes home exhausted.
In my passion for a closer relationship with Jesus and with the church, I often trip over the threshold between heart and mind. Take heaven, for example. As someone who heard God’s call late in life, I think heaven must be one of the hardest things for a skeptic to accept about Christianity. Heaven? Seriously? Really, people? A few years ago, I told myself that if I professed to be a Christian, I had a duty to believe in heaven. I would yell at myself while driving around doing errands: “You have to believe in heaven!” Needless to say, this didn’t work so well.
I ask my mind and heart to find a more effective relationship. Right now that means learning to find more rest in my faith.
When I’m exhausted with my own mental torments, I can’t listen to what the people around me need. I need to stop and ask myself, do I really need to ask this question right now?
What is this mental puzzle preventing me from seeing with my heart? What if I were to just rest in Jesus right now, and we’ll figure out the fine print when we get there. Finally, peace – yes, even for me. I give myself permission to have peace.
There’s a moment in Homer’s Odyssey where Odysseus’ son wants to ask a king if he has any news about Odysseus, but something holds him back. “I am quite inexperienced at making speeches,” the youth stammers. He doesn’t know he is Athena’s presence – she’s in disguise, as she so often is (Jesus never comes in disguise, but I often fail to recognize Him nonetheless). Athena says, “You will work out what to do, through your own wits and with divine assistance.” She seems to be asking the young man to feel himself fully in this situation. Something about who he is will help him see what to say. And divine assistance is at hand.
God gets angry with Moses when he begs to be let off after receiving divine reassurance that the words he needs will come. I have to trust. I have to be attentive. The same source will give me rainy words one moment, sleety words the next, or my favorite, the snowy words that stick and coat the landscape softly, muting out all other noise. And at the end, I come sweetly back to the sunlight, the Wellspring given to be the Source of love and joy and hope and faith.
Claudia Hauer teaches at the college level, and loves watching young people turning into adults. She had an overwhelming conversion experience 5 years ago and is just learning to tell her faith story. She lives under the Rocky Mountains and loves to hike, run, and cook, and can usually be found with a book in her hands and a cup of coffee nearby.