Le blàths is gràdh sìorraidh,
Great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
If the heart is the seat of feelings, then there are days when God’s “Great Heart” is not my own. The theme of this great poem / song is consistent throughout, from the first line to the last: that God Himself would be the occupier, animator and substance of the singer. It is the longing – but in my experience, so rarely the reality.
Getting real about my “heart”
My heart is defined by alternating layers of selfishness, arrogance, judgment and rage, followed by layers of awareness, guilt, grief and repentance. I’m over-stating it a bit, but not by much. With the exception of some “transitional” feelings of gratitude and authentic joy, the primary substance of my heart is corrupted. Even my very real feelings of grief are largely sourced in my reawakening to the fact that I will never become the disciple I wish I could be. It’s just another layer of selfishness.
I’m intrigued, however, by the thin substance between these layers of corruption. They are very thin. Very brief moments. Like popping a membrane; the moment a soap bubble pops and you can see for that one instant the constellation of little particles left behind catching the sun. You can almost hear it.
The thin layers between the layers of corruption hold a promise. These are the liminal spaces where the rules of our reality don’t quite apply. These are the spaces where the atheist must admit she is mad at a God whom her brain claims does not exist. Where the Buddhist must admit that achieving nothingness is not truly his goal – it never could be. And it’s where the disciple of Jesus must admit that they still long to be their own God.
Our default hearts
It’s the in-between places of the Christian’s heart that reveal the ultimate truth. We will ever be striving to free ourselves of the imagined tyranny of God. We can’t help it. We metabolize oxygen, need liquid water and we will ever be struggling to establish ourselves as the center of our own reality despite the truth being otherwise. My friends, this is why a savior is needed! This is why no amount of moralizing, self-improvement or wisdom will do.
Therefore, I find the same truth revealed approaching the end of this song as I found at the beginning: this is a plea. Yes, the words soar with hope and a sense of deep commitment and truth. But when I sit with these words for any length of time, when I really consider the spirit of what’s being said, there is no other conclusion than this is a cry for help.
“God! Would that somehow, your great heart would be my own no matter what. I can not make it so. Help me. Save me.”