Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Valerie Luckey, OSB on The Moment At Heart

I get tired of reading all the reflections on how busy we are, and perhaps I shouldn't spend my time reading them, but...

I did read a piece on my dear On Being blog by Omid Safi titled, The Disease of Being Busy. What was different about this reflection for me was that he suggested something that I believe might actually help us pause, might not stop making us busy (since it feels inevitable at this point), but might just help us grow in compassion for others, too. Safi writes:

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

Wow. How is your heart doing at this very moment? Imagine what might happen to us if we asked that question...and listened.

Over the weekend I was talking to a friend about the courage it takes to share yourself; It can be challenging to know which parts of my life I want to share with others, and certainly risky, too. This question, "How is your heart doing right now?" holds much vulnerability in the answer, as well as for the listener who might not be prepared to hear a given response. It takes courage (or heart!) to engage the question.

If I were to tell you about my heart right now, I would tell you about a heart in transition, a heart trying to hold the sacredness of my novitiate year while also holding the sacredness of being with children as I transition back in ministry in our community. I love being in both those places, and I am in liminal space as I dance between the two. This reality also presents the mystery of being created for Love, which I experience in both places, while also being a limited human being, who can only be in one of those places. Oh, if we could only have it all.

And, I think that is what our hearts struggle with, no matter what form it takes: being a whole heart created by God while also being wholly human. It's messy, and it keeps our lives full as we try to do it all, but maybe sharing our unique heart space at any given moment is the real answer. Maybe feeling more deeply connected to someone else in the messiness and busyness of life is the best we can do.

Valerie Luckey, OSB is in the initial monastic program of the Erie Benedicintes and has taken temporary vows with the community as she discerns the possibility of perpetual monastic profession. She shares her "monastic journey" on the community website in her blog, "Walking in the Holy Presence" This particular reflection was written during her monastic novitiate year.

Imagine what might happen to us if we asked the question...How is your heart doing at this very moment? and listened.

Try Val's challenge with one person, or with everyone you encounter in one day, or ... and share with us here what happens when you do.

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Monks in Our Midst: writings by monks from the 3rd to the 21st centuries.