It looks like a secret code but it is not. It was late. I was tired. That is how I typed my name while filling out an online form. This is what happens when you don’t have your fingers on the home keys. My last name is in all caps because my little finger landed on the CAPS LOCK instead of SHIFT. Then I thought I pushed the DELETE key but because I still had my fingers on the wrong keys, Siri came on and asked, “What can I help you with?”
Ack. Siri! I was too tired to even yell at her. Everything was off. But this is what happens when you are not starting out in the right place, when you’re ungrounded and off center.
This doesn’t happen only on the key board, it happens in real life too.
Long ago I decided that I needed some “home keys” for my spiritual life, some passage to help me start my day, make decisions, change my attitude, center me.
Psalm 23 was the first Bible passage I ever memorized. I was in first grade and had no idea what it meant. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters..”
“Green pastures?” That meant our front lawn on which my mom did not like us to play. “Still waters.” Blow up wading pool? Even when I got a bit older I found Psalm 23 nice but unrelatable. I certainly didn’t like the sound of, “rod and staff.” That sounded too much like tools for spanking. And if my head is being anointed with oil I’d like to take care of my split ends in the privacy of my bathroom and not in the presence of mine enemies.
But there were so many other choices: the Love Chapter in Corinthians, the Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments.
I decided on John 12:34-35: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” My sister read this at our wedding.
Why did I choose this? Precisely because it is a bit ambiguous, nebulous, open to interpretation. I am supposed to love everyone as Jesus loves me? It forces me to ask, “How does Jesus love me?”
This is a priceless question because even if I’m cranky or tired or discouraged it sets me off on the road to gratitude. How does Jesus love me? Well, my friend, how much time do you have?
Then I have to ask myself, “What does that look like to love others as Jesus loves me?”
I don’t know about you, but with me, Jesus isn’t all fuzzy blankets, hearts and flowers. Sometimes his love feels fierce and sharp, but it’s love all the same. That means sometimes when loving you I have to speak a piercing truth. This takes a lot of contemplation and deliberation; a lot of listening prayer. Because of that you can see how loving you is so good for me.
I asked some other followers of Jesus what verses they would choose.
My friend and fellow Camino pilgrim Phil Volker said, “Be not afraid.” Phil was Marine and is currently dancing with Stage IV cancer so it makes sense to me that this was his choice. I think it is a very popular choice since “be not afraid” appears 47 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and 21 times in the Christian scriptures. God says it, Jesus says it. Prophets, kings and angels say it.
Right now it feels as if there are so many things to worry about: the COVID pandemic, the state of the world, the state of our nation, worldwide race relations. Having just written all that maybe, “Be not afraid,” is now my backup verse.
My favorite “be not afraid” verse is John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” I love that he acknowledges it is our hearts that are troubled.
And so this brings me to the verse my sister (also a follower of Jesus) chose. “Treat every human heart as if it were breaking.” What a great verse! Where is that? It turns out that it’s not actually a Bible verse. She explained, “I saw it in high school on a Unity calendar at my friend Barbara Jarrett’s house.”
Well, there you go.
I consulted Rev. Google about this and could not find the author. I can only think that whoever wrote that was a follower of Jesus.
Especially in times like these we have to make sure we’re on the home keys, that we’re grounded and centered. Then we can love one another as Jesus has loved us, we can be without fear and then truly, we will treat every human heart as if it were breaking.