September 26, 2015 | Reflections from Sr Antonia
Realizing I had left my Grail translation of the psalter elsewhere, I experienced a momentary frustration. It was early morning as I sat down to pray, watching the darkened sky begin to radiate light, a brilliant blood red. Not having my Grail translation with me meant that I had to revert to an alternative, and moments later I was captivated as I prayed Psalm 41 from my Knox translation:
“Shall I never again make my pilgrimage into God’s presence?
Morning by morning my diet still of tears!
Daily I must listen to the taunt where is your God now?
Memories come back to me melting the heart.”
Then, a different refrain began to hum itself into my consciousness:
“Let your hearts be broken not your garments torn.”
Pondering these words I realized that Scripture abounds with references to broken hearts, yet the references to melting hearts are few. “My heart melted within my breast” from PS. 21:15 is one of the exceptions. Is a broken heart the same as a melting heart I now wondered?
In Ps. 41 quoted above, the psalmist, having been forced into exile from his native country, indicates that what melts his heart are the memories coming back to him of when he would
“lead the rejoicing crowd into the house of God. “
He longed to be able to return home, to go on praising God in his own country, but he had not the freedom to do so. He was a captive and an exile. And there are thousands of people in the world today experiencing that same kind of exile.
Quite often however, it is a slightly different story for some of us in that we can actually exile ourselves from our true homeland, that within our own hearts. I wonder if there are times when I lead myself into voluntary exile for some reason, such as loss of faith, disillusionment, anger, hurt, doubt? Have you? It is a very lonely exile isn’t it, and very painful.
And despite the voluntary nature of this exile is there somewhere deep within our heart where the longing to return beats
Do I/we remain in voluntary exile out of pride, fear, anger, apathy?
Or maybe the pain of betrayal?
Perhaps, though not the same, there is a connection between a broken heart and a melting heart and it seems to me that the connection may have something to do with repentance, regret, return. A breaking heart realizes its brokenness and admits its pain. And the pain can be truly terrible. At this point if the desire, the longing, the yearning to return burns so strongly that it overshadows the hurt, pain, unforgiveness or bitterness, it can actually melt a hardened or estranged heart as it cries out with the psalmist:
“Soul why are you downcast?
Will you never be at peace?
Wait for God’s help.
I will not cease to cry out in thankfulness
My Saviour and my God.”
Is your heart broken? If it is, would it be possible for you to enter into the gift this brokenness holds; to allow your heart to melt with repentance, remorse, and even compassion for itself, and so return to itself? It is here that God is already waiting with a Divine welcome!
“Truly, God was in this place and I did not know it.”
Perhaps this a melting moment for you as it is for me?