Rediscovering Your Heartsong

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this:
‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no greater commandment greater than these. – Mark 12:28-31

The greatest commandment, rooted in the Shema, the biblical prayer (Deut. 6:4-5) recited daily by Jews for centuries, commands us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. In other words, we are commanded to love God with our whole selves – all that we are!

It sounds so simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Many of us live busy, distracted lives, and in a culture that so highly values productivity and efficiency, it’s easy (even for retired folks, I’ve noticed) to lose sight of our selves – and of God – in the face of life’s daily demands and the constant call of our calendars. Yet, if we’re going to bring our whole selves to God, let alone love God with our whole selves, we have to get in touch with our selves. As Frederick Buecher says, we have to learn to listen to our life. But when and where can we learn to do this?

Enter the gift of Sabbath. Keeping Sabbath, contrary to the voice of that pesky “Protestant work ethic” in our heads, is not “wasting (or wasted) time.” It’s time, among other things, to connect or reconnect with our hearts, where, Scripture reminds us, God tends to like to dwell. As Anita Amstutz writes in her wonderful little book Soul Tending, “Sabbath keeping can give us space to reconnect with our heartsong, to listen to its stirrings and see where it intersects with our work in the world…when I returned to Sabbath keeping…I found out that a dedicated Sabbath day created breathing space to slow down and listen…to notice what is truly important in my life…[and] the practice opened up a tiny window for my soul to begin to explore my childhood loves.”

So, what makes your heart sing? (Is it literally singing?) What gives you meaning and purpose? What draws you into the spacious presence of the Holy? Maybe, the next time you take a day for Sabbath rest, you could explore some of these things!

Bless the Lord, Oh my soul
Oh my soul, worship his holy name
Sing like never before, Oh my soul
I’ll worship your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

               -Lyrics from “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

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