Create a Clean Heart

"Create a clean heart in me,
and renew my spirit."
~ Psalm 51

Create a clean heart in me...

Sometimes, this means our hearts will be broken open...

Sometimes, this means that we must excavate the innermost chambers within and let go of what does not serve...

For nearly a year - or more - I have recited this simple verse - and prayed it - almost as a demand - perhaps not truly knowing what it means, or what it implies...

If we ask for our hearts to be cleansed, then every bit of us must be cleansed as well: our bodies, our minds, and our very souls. Every part of us must be healed...

I begin this Lent, very mindful of where the last one took me, on a most unexpected journey. I begin this Lent by praying with a group of women I have joined every week, for a  good while. Our gatherings punctuate my week and splits it in two...

I attend the Ash Wednesday service at this wonderful, and very welcoming Episcopal Church where I go to pray, sitting next to one of the members of our sacred circle, profoundly moved by the service, the homily, and the opportunity to worship in a church where the rector and deacon are both women, feeling completely at home there, though this does not happen in my own tradition...

Everything I read today, is about forgiving. Everything I read today, bids me to cleanse my heart, and invites me to enter more deeply into the journey of the next 40 days:

"May I have the strength to forgive those who've betrayed me... When I forgive, I am not condoning. I am merely placing in the hands of God what is not mine to fix. I bless those who have betrayed me, for in seeing their innocence I can see mine..."
~ Marianne Williamson, A Year in Miracles

"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning, rend your hearts and not your clothing."
~ Joel 2:12-13

"O Lord, I enter into this holy season of Lent with fear, but also with great expectations. I hope for a great breakthrough, a powerful conversion, a real change of heart..."
~ Henri Nouwen

Create in me, a clean heart... Rend my heart, and break it open... 

But it is these words, from a poem shared in the homily, that truly invites me to consider the deeper meaning of cleansing my heart. And so I end here, knowing that I must marinate what is implied, what is being asked, and what I must give this season...

And may it speak to you on your journey as well!

Rend Your Heart
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday

To receive this blessing,
all you have to do
is let your heart break.
Let it crack open.
Let it fall apart
so that you can see
its secret chambers,
the hidden spaces
where you have hesitated
to go.

Your entire life
is here, inscribed whole
upon your heart’s walls:
every path taken
or left behind,
every face you turned toward
or turned away,
every word spoken in love
or in rage,
every line of your life
you would prefer to leave
in shadow,
every story that shimmers
with treasures known
and those you have yet
to find.

It could take you days
to wander these rooms.
Forty, at least.

And so let this be
a season for wandering
for trusting the breaking
for tracing the tear
that will return you

to the One who waits
who watches
who works within
the rending
to make your heart

~ Jan Richardson


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