Good morning everyone – thank you for being here. Everybody say Amen! 

I’d like to talk a little bit about the heart. We all have a spiritual heart, and the essence of that spiritual heart is light. This light is our inheritance from God, our divine DNA. We all carry the light of God in our hearts! Think about that for a minute. We are truly God’s children, light bearers, each and every one of us.

I’d like everyone to close your eyes…. Be aware of your breathing…. and gently breathe into your heart space in the center of your chest…. You can imagine your spiritual heart as a soft glow of light, or perhaps a tiny flame…. And just gently breathe into that light…. 

You can open your eyes now.

I believe the heart is symbolically and literally at the intersection of spirit and matter. We can think of the cross as the symbol of this dynamic, with the vertical line symbolizing spirit, in the eternal now, continually interacting with and enlivening the physical plane of matter and linear time, symbolized by the horizontal line. The center of that cross, where the eternal now of spirit meets the physical plane, is where the heart resides. And we carry that blueprint in our bodies, everywhere we go, (gesturing up to down) now, now, and now. (Arms out) Past present, and future.

The heart is also where we connect with each other on a feeling level. It’s the home of caring, compassion, appreciation, and gratitude. Because we are connected at the level of the heart, it’s also where we are vulnerable. We are vulnerable to each other if our heart is open. (Children, whose hearts are open and innocent, are also the most vulnerable among us. Interesting that Jesus asked us to be more like children.)

Of course, life is hard, and as hurts and grief accumulate in our body-mind over time, they can and do coalesce around our hearts and block our light. If we spend even a short time meditating on, and breathing into our hearts, typically those feelings that we’ve hung onto will for days and months and years begin to surface. Sometimes it can seem like endless layers of an onion, and you wonder if you’ll ever get to the bottom of it. But if you stay with it, eventually you will begin to sense a lightness.

There’s another technique I’ve found that can have amazing results, and that’s the practice of gratitude. 

I’d like to share a personal story. When I was in my 30s, I had a major falling out with my father. I was deeply upset about it and I know he was too. One night shortly after this had happened, I was tossing and turning, trying to sleep, but I was too upset. It so happened that I had bought a book a few days before and it was setting on my night stand. The name of the book is Living With Joy. So I turned on the light, sat up in bed, got the book and opened it randomly to see what it might have to say to me. The chapter I opened it to was on gratitude. I read the chapter and then at the end there was a suggested exercise. So I lay back in bed, closed my eyes, and remembered everything I could that I had to be thankful for, starting as far back in my childhood as I could remember, all the way through to that present time. It took a while. There were a lot of things to be thankful for! And at the end of that process I felt complete peace. I had gone from deep upset to deep peace.

So let’s take a minute now for gratitude. Close your eyes again…. Gently bring your awareness to your breathing…. gently breathe into your heart…. and think of something you’re grateful for…. It might be a friend who is always there in a time of need…. It might be a teacher or family member who believed in you, who saw your inherent goodness…. It might be a small thing that someone did for you that was small for them – a smile, a simple kindness – but that really made your day…. Stay with that feeling of gratitude for a minute…. 

OK, open your eyes.

Regular practice of gratitude can strengthen our conscious connection to the light in our hearts, that light that is our inheritance from our Creator, that light at the center of the cross where spirit intersects with matter. That place where we all live.

So remember your spiritual heart, remember the light that lives there. Take time to be appreciative, to express gratitude, to count your blessings. Remember that we’re all connected, all God’s children.