If light is in your heart, you will find your way home. – Rumi
This is probably fairly obvious to regular readers of this space, but I am by nature a “heart” person.
In most matters, I look at the world through an intuitive lens, with my heart - in spiritual terms, my entire inner being.
It is what comes most naturally to me and why I deeply process and appreciate the beauty inherent all around me.
Whether it is a field of purple tulips, the aroma of a crock pot of spaghetti sauce simmered all day, a Waltz by Johannes Brahms, prayer time with the mystics, volumes of ecstatic poetry in my library, a gentle breeze blowing through my spirit, getting lost in writing my soul out, or my dog, well, being my dog, I am wildly, sometimes painfully, in tune with the world we live in.
Most of the time.
I do use my intellect when needed, which is not infrequent.
But when I pray, I try not to do so from my head, rattling off all my problems to God.
He already knows what they are; he doesn’t need me polluting the air with more chaos.
No, when I pray, I strive to do so with the prayer of the heart.
I was first introduced to prayer of the heart years ago, by the late Catholic priest Henri Nouwen and his thin volume, “The Way of the Heart.”
I have referred to my original version so often over the past few decades, that last year I bought a new copy.
But, being the heart person that I am, I am somewhat attached to the original copy and the road we’ve traveled together, and haven’t let it go yet.
In the book, Nouwen addresses himself to ministers who are consumed by their duties and sometimes let their own spiritual life fall by the wayside. (The book is such, that all people can benefit from it.)
But if our spiritual leaders don’t prioritize practicing a spiritual life, Nouwen asks, how can we expect them to guide us and support us in spiritual matters?
The book is broken down into three sections: silence, solitude and prayer, all three being vital for growth in the spirit.
I have learned over the years to sit in silence and solitude, mostly every day.
Yes, it can be painful in the beginning to sit alone in silence, with nothing to do but listen to your inner demons taunt you.
But with perseverance, their ramblings go away and one finds a rich inner peace, and begins to look at the world with a much vaster inner eye than the brain can provide.
Personally, I find the richest experience of heart-centered prayer when I sit quietly, alone, in the sanctuary of St. Michael the Archangel church in Streator, or any other Catholic church or chapel where the Body and Blood of Christ – the Bread of Life – are present, either in the tabernacle or exposed in the monstrance for adoration.
By doing this it has become natural for me to sit and commune heart to heart with Christ, and to slowly be transformed by him.
I have learned over the years that these holy places are holy indeed, because they are filled with the Presence of Christ himself. Not to mention the long histories of generations of faithful filling the space with their own prayers and supplications, as well as observing key moments in their lives such as Baptisms, first Holy Communions, Confirmation, Matrimony, or funerals.
When I sit in these sanctuaries, I sit with the Body of Christ – our Lord himself, and the souls of all those who have gone before me.
Our time together is holy, holy, holy.
I am strengthened by their presence and their prayers.
And I am united with them through the light in my heart, as it finds its way home.
SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at email@example.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.