Monday, January 16, 2012
Deserts of the Heart
W. H. Auden, in this tribute to Yeats writes some lines that have always haunted me.
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountains start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
I think that for many of us the phrase “deserts of the heart” resonates
Life is simply difficult.
Relationships are complex and messy
Jobs are frustrating and sometimes unfulfilling
The advertiser and other constantly seek to nurture our discontent
Wayne Muller, in his book Sabbath suggests that the strategies of the advertising agencies expose our emptiness in a powerful way. In one of the chapters he starts by describing a scene presented in an ad. In the scene we find a group of young sophisticated women and men lounging about in natural cotton clothing, loose and soft on their sculpted bodies. It seems to be late afternoon and they are gathered in this incredible patio area, in the shadow of a wonderful Victorian House. Over in one corner a golden retriever sleeps. It is a picture of perfect happiness. You can taste the drink in their hands, smell the flowers on the breeze. The job is miles away, they seem to be inviting us to join them, to become a part of their lives. They seem to say – This is how you were meant to be…
What they offer is the happiness of being young, rich, at ease, perfect. Order this blouse, this cologne, this table setting ,this coffee maker and YOU will enter this picture. Troubles will dissolve, and life will be sweet. In the end they are saying this and always this: Buy what we have and you will be happy. But beneath that text is the real message. Until and unless you buy what we are selling, you will never be happy. “See these people? We know you are not that happy!” A thousand times a time the ads send this message to us. You are not enough. You do not have enough. You are not happy. You need more, you need to do more, you need to be more….”
And we buy into it.
So what do we do with this dry heart?
How do we transform the desert into something else
A place were springs abound, and God’s new thing springs forth.
What started all this reflecting were some words from none other than Hafiz
Yes, I get my inspirations in interesting places.
In one of his poems he pens these wonderful lines.
In a flute
That the Christ’s breath
Listen to this music
We, our hearts, our minds, our lives
Are that through which Christ’s breath
(I make that the Spirit) moves
It blows through us
And our lives resonate with the beauty
Of what that that breath creates
The antidote to dryness is Christ Spirit flowing through us
As Jesus would put it in John
He is the living water
He is the living giving Vine, from which, when we are connected to it
Christ is not physically here
But the Spirit remains..
And because it does
Our “grief turns to joy” (John 16:20)