Monday, 14 February 2011

The heart itself has a heart

'As the Hasidic master Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav said, “Everything in this world has a heart; the heart itself has its own heart.”

I was reading today, looking for thoughts on the Heart and found this -

Nobel Prize-winning author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel today took out a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, in the form an open letter to President Obama, with whom Wiesel visited the Buchenwald death camp last year. Here is the text of the letter

'Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul.'

He speaks about the sense of homecoming a Jew experiences when coming to Jerusalem, even for the first time. As a catholic, I felt the same. I felt the same when attending the beautiful Shabbat meal with an Orthodox Jewish family in Mea Sherim - I could have wept at the sense of returning to the place where I had come from.

In Hebrew they call it 'Teshuva' and it can also mean a return to the wellsprings of life, to the House of the Father. Our word for it, though less poetic and soulful, is 'repentance', but it suffers much in translation. Jesus' story of the Father who waits eagerly for His son to return home, with a fine robe, a ring and a feast all ready for him, captures it a little better.

Indeed, I could not sleep for hours after the banquet of Shabbat, just contemplating the beauty of the Shabbos (pronounced Shabbis). A poem about that evening is on my poetry blog as today's poem. "I have waited till beauty was restored to me, before I built my house".

During Valentine's Day, I thought it would be good to think about what is at the heart of my heart. All my actions will flow towards or away from it, so it's worth knowing!

Some of the most beautiful days I spent in the Holy Land were with the Sisters of Bethlehem in Bet Shemesh (where the Ark of the Covenant came to rest for a time). The Monastery was built by a female architect and its beauty, simplicity, restfulness, soulfulness and capacity to produce a sense of the unexpected as well as involvement in mythic glory without pretention, is unparalleled!

Firstly she built a synagogue on one of the floors. There are levels and unexpected twists and turns - the building flows into the heart, from the place of the Menorah to the Byzantine Chapel.

No building I have ever been in gave me such a sense of the Light of the Old Covenant leading into the Glory of the New, with such gentleness, respect and awe.

This photo is of the synagogue on the right and the corridor on the left led to the cell where I was staying, called Tiberias.

And here the chapel. Need I say more?

Here is where I found the Heart of my heart. I hope you get a sense of its perfect peace. You need only add the birdsong and the liturgy sung in Hebrew, Arabic and French. The prayers always for peace.

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