I’m in the process of reading an incredible book these days, entitled, “Tattoos on the Heart – The Power of Boundless Compassion” by Gregory Boyle.
It's the story of (Fr.) Gregory Boyle himself, who for over twenty years now has been involved with gang-intervention in the hardest hit areas of Los Angeles. He conveys story upon story of the people he’s had an opportunity to meet and work with, deep within the mess, and how, with faith and assurance in God’s plan, has witnessed first-hand how offering people a chance they never believed they could have in the first place, their lives can catapult them in a completely different direction.
Within these brilliant and heart-tugging pages, Father Greg speaks of spiritual blindness, something I’m sure we’ve all heard of at one point or another. He delicately explains how we often need to close both eyes in order to see clearly with the other one – our heart.
As with so many things in life, I feel like it’s easy to grow complacent. Just the other night, in fact, I gave a brief presentation about the Catholic Mass to a group of RCIA candidates (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and I, myself, admitted how frequently I overlook the miracle of what really happens each time the bread and wine are consecrated at the Eucharistic table. The true sacrifice is, sadly, lost on me because I’m accustomed to seeing it played out each and every week. Can you even imagine? Being so familiar to the point of disinterest by the witnessing of a such a miracle? What a shame and dishonor to our Lord!
Complacency is also the reason, I assume, that I struggle to get healthy and stay healthy. Maintaining a diet and exercise program becomes monotonous and before I know it, I’ve consumed a day's worth of calories in just one sitting. Or, it could also be the reason that my New Year’s resolutions go flying out the window shortly after trying to incorporate them into my daily life. I start out strong, but falter after time...
I have a feeling that Jesus can also sense when we’ve grown complacent; complacent with prayer, with our spiritual growth, and with our desire to walk beside people rather than always ahead of them or above them.
Closing both of our eyes allows us to view the world from a different perspective. We start to listen differently and respond differently because we are listening and responding from our hearts, which is where we find compassion and empathy and kind-heartedness. We set aside our judgments and misconceptions and enter a unique realm of possibilities and freedom from the walls we've built. We see things we haven’t seen before, such as beauty and pure, unabashed splendor.
I wonder what this world would be like if we all strived to live from a place of love and acceptance?
I do know this: we are limited only by the boundaries we set for ourselves.
So close your eyes. Open your heart. And then see where the world takes you.