Heather Aldridge Bart, Professor of Communication Studies
Psalm 4: 3 (KJV) Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah
Luke 2: 13-20 (KJV) And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Knowing with your head and heart.
For several years, I have been taken with the account of Mary after the events following the birth of Jesus. Luke records that Mary pondered all that had happened in her heart. I have always wondered about how one ponders with their heart. After all, the heart feels and the head thinks, right?
As a culture, we tend to separate reasoning from emotion by preferencing the former over the latter. We know things, and we feel things. For example, I follow the news and was aware of the existence of the virus in China; I knew of the spread and the devastation it was causing as it spread worldwide. All the while, I knew that the developing pandemic was virulent, deadly. However, I didn’t feel it. I am not a sociopath, I felt sorrow, empathy, and concern for those being devastated around the world. But now it is in my community, impacting people I know, and threatening me. Experience affords different sets of information and invites deeper/different contemplation. Now reality comes to beg me to contemplate these things in my heart.
Biblical accounts of Jesus’s life tell us a story of emotion. He is often frustrated with disciples and their questions, weary of their competition for his attention or their superiority over others (suffer the children come), disappointed with their inability to stay awake to pray with him in the garden. Jesus shows his anger in the Temple with the merchants, and he cries at the death of Lazarus. But mostly, he takes pity or compassion and shows love to those he encounters. Yet, he is also clearly capable of reason. He knows of God’s plan and asks to be excused but willingly accepts the punishment that is the price for human redemption.
The dichotomy of knowing and feeling seem to be in my faith life as well. I accept the vital elements of my faith with my head—I believe in one God, the father almighty…I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, born of the father before all ages—the Nicene creed summarizes my faith, but largely in a matter of fact, head sort of way. Current circumstances necessitate distance, isolation, quarantine, and departure from the familiar ways we worship, work and recreate. I find myself pondering these things in my heart. Recently, while watching mass with my family in our home, our priest was discussing lent and told us the one thing we need to know in our hearts is simply that we are loved. Such a basic tenet of Christ’s message to us but this time, I felt it and was moved. We are joined by a common bond of humanity in the love of Christ and we must know as certainly as we live that we are not alone; we are loved. Reach out to those who may be feeling the pain of separation, the loss of connection, and who have a desperate need to know they are loved. This Easter season, may we be Christ’s love to one another.
May you know peace, joy and God’s love with both your heart and head now and always.