One Thing: The Wisdom of the Heart

 In Featured, One Thing, Pastor Jeff's Blog

One thing I’m grateful for | This year’s annual bike ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI.org) has been canceled due to the pandemic. It’s been my favorite week of the year for 12 years, so I’m really bummed. But my cycling team will not be deterred! They are coming to Minnesota to ride for several days this week. I’m so grateful that we won’t miss the opportunity to pedal together!

One thing I’m learning | When I was in high school, I worked in a pizza restaurant. One day I went into the walk-in refrigerator and could swear I heard a cat. The sound was coming from behind one of the walls. Long story short, we cut away part of the wall and discovered a kitten between two wall studs. How it got there remains a mystery. When we reached in to pull the kitten out, the little fur ball went on the attack – hissing, clawing, biting. I didn’t understand that fear had triggered the kitten’s fight or flight response, and since it had nowhere to flee, it fought.

As we navigate conversations about racial justice in America I’ve notice that some people have been upset by the anger they’ve sensed in communities of color. It’s made them hesitant to want to wade into the turbulent waters of conversation and advocacy. While I’m not approving of violence or the destruction of property, I have found it helpful to think about the anger as more than outrage, righteous indignation or worse – moral failure, but also as the natural response to pain and fear. Sometimes anger is like armor we wear to protect ourselves from being wounded or disappointed again, something that communities of color are quite familiar with. When I think about the anger of others in that way it helps me refrain from judging and encourages me to continue wading into those turbulent waters of conversation and advocacy with greater compassion and openness.

One thought that is challenging me spiritually | We Lutherans are a “heady” bunch. In matters of faith we tend to be highly rational, distrusting both emotion and experience. I was taught in subtle and not-so-subtle ways to distrust my “heart” and value my “head”. But lately I’ve been challenged to embrace my heart as an important part of my spirituality. In fact, I’ve learned that often my heart is smarter than my head and has much to teach me. Jeremiah 17:9 is usually translated, “The human heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked; who can know it?” But when you dig into the original Hebrew you come to discover that that verse actually means something quite different, and something much more helpful and hopeful. I’ll say more about that in my Wednesday video blog.

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  • Ken Blofield

    Jeff,
    I know that you are working with many people in the black community. I am wondering how the BLM and our church is handling the problem of the loss of the family core in the minority community. The percentage of two adults heading a family has dropped greatly over the last 20 or 30 years. That plus the lack of adequate schooling for the children along with lack of work opportunities in the minority areas seem to be the three big issues. Control Data back in the 70s build a production plant in that area that was very successful until CDC had big trouble and went out of business. My understanding is that the BLM has had large donations but I have not heard where they are helping to rebuild the businesses destroyed by the rioting or helping the north side community. Hopefully I am wrong in the last statement.

    • Jeff Marian

      Thanks for writing Ken. I can’t speak for the BLM organization as I have no connection with them. Nor do I trust what media outlets say about them.

      Have you heard the analogy about pulling bodies out of the river? Some people are standing by a river when they see some bodies being dragged under by the current – people are drowning – so they rush over and pull the bodies out. But while they’re in the middle of that, more bodies come along that need to be pulled out the river. At some point, you need to stop pulling bodies out, and send someone upstream to work out why people are falling into the river in the first place. If you can stop so many people falling in upstream, you won’t have to do so much work pulling bodies out downstream.

      The issues you’ve mentioned are the things that are pulling many in communities of color down. The work of social action is to pull people out of those circumstances. In addition, we need to look upstream and find out why people are falling in. That’s the work of social justice. Various individuals at Prince of Peace are active on both fronts, and members of our Board of Directors are getting us connected to an organization called “Be the Bridge” as a next step. If you’re interested in getting connected, or have other ideas or questions, I’d be glad to connect you with those who are leading the initiative. Peace, Pastor Jeff

  • Victor L. Diller

    I wish you had explained the Hebrew for Jeremiah 17:9. I am left feeling empty and wondering. That would have helped us understand where you were going in your thoughts.
    In other words, I am not a good mind reader. Sorry.

    • Jeff Marian

      Thanks for writing Victor. I go into some detail on the Hebrews in the video blog on this topic which will be posted on our website, PoP’s FB page and my page on Wednesday. What was posted in the written blog on Monday was meant to be just a teaser. Apparently, you were effectively teased! Peace, Pastor Jeff.

  • Jim becker

    Wow! Just a week ago I was reading Genesis and it struck me for the first time that Adam and Eve were never forbidden from eating from the Tree of Life. Instead they chose The Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Makes me wonder the difference we would see If They/We had chosen differently . Perhaps we would follow our hearts more readily than our heads. Thanks for this message at this time. It’s always kinda cool when God seems to speak to your heart from two or more different directions in a short period of time. Peace and strength Jeff!

    • Jeff Marian

      Thanks Jim!

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