The Way of the Heart Part 8: Heart Surgery

This continues my series on Cynthia Bourgeault‘s recent day-session at the Servant Leadership School of Greensboro. You can start reading right here, or scroll below to see the previous sessions. 

Jesus stands in the lineage of the prophets and fulfills God’s promise to Ezekiel:

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19)

Jesus takes his place in the succession of the prophets. He initiates a greater interiority; a way of knowing the relational heart of God. This is what some call Interiorized Monasticism.

Jesus comes as the Master Cardiologist, taking away hearts of stone and giving us hearts of flesh.  A heart of stone is simply one that is incapable of hearing & participating in the living, and interdynamic umbilical field of human hearing and divine response, and vice-versa. Since the stone heart can’t hear, it sets its knowing on sterner stuff – reified law, covenants, dogma, et al.

Jesus comes to do the surgery – centering prayer, everyday kenosis, is the surgery.

Bruno Barnhart (free talks here) speaks of recognition energy. A holy contagion. (“Master, where do you dwell?” “Come and see!”) When people see Jesus, they see two things simultaneously: Not only “Oh wow, what a divine specimen” (this too), but they see their own power, dignity, and divinity. The blind man doesn’t only see, but he speaks. In the presence of Jesus, you see the luminosity of your own divine face. Fully human, fully divine, fully united in the heart. (See Second Simplicity: Toward a Rebirth of Wisdom)

The Gospel runs on recognition energy. “I have seen the Lord!”

The people most resistant in that are the most invested in ordinary knowledge – the “rich,” not only in material resources, but in spiritual and intellectual resources.

The recognition drama goes on ‘till the very end of the Gospels – one thief on the cross gets it, one doesn’t.

“Poor in spirit” is beginner’s mind.


To be continued…to see where Cynthia’s going with this, I recommend checking out her books The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and MindCentering Prayer and Inner Awakening,  The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, and The Wisdom Way of Knowing.

If you’re interested in exploring the myriad of ways in which apprentices to Jesus can navigate change in the 21st century – in our worship, our spiritual formation, our way of engaging the crises and opportunities we face today – I hope you join me at Co-Creation 2012, happening this April 12-15 in the same space where I saw Cynthia. Brian McLaren, Diana Butler-Bass, and Integral Christianity author Paul Smith will be joining with the Servant Leadership School of Greensboro, North Carolina and a half-dozen artists and musicians to bring a truly unforgettable, interactive experience. To register, click here; to read more about this in an in-depth blog post, go here.

In This Series:

The Way of the Heart – Cynthia Bourgeault Part 1: What IS the Path of Jesus?
The Way of the Heart – Cynthia Bourgeault Part 2: See What Jesus Sees; Do What Jesus Does
The Way of the Heart Part 3: Cynthia Bourgealt’s Four Proposals – Beyond ‘The Imitation of Christ’
The Way of the Heart Part 4: Heartfulness Practice Transcends & Includes Orthodoxy
The Way of the Heart Part 5: Upgrading Our Operating System
The Way of the Heart Part 6: A Rorschach Blot for the Mind
The Way of the Heart Part 7: When 20/20 Hindsight Becomes Blindsight
The Way of the Heart Interlude: Kenosis Hymn
The Way of the Heart Interlude: Speaking of Life Divine
The Way of the Heart Part 8: Heart Surgery
The Way of the Heart Part 9: Christ is Living in Our Midst

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5 thoughts on “The Way of the Heart Part 8: Heart Surgery

  1. Thanks for this, Mike. The increased interiority that Jesus brings is so valuable. A heart of stone is one that needs rituals to validate it; a heart of flesh is one that needs courage. The fragile flower that blooms in the snow is a picture of vulnerability and a reminder that spirit isn’t all about strength and prominence. However, whereas the conventional monastery provided a sheltered area for courage to grow, the interiorised monastery must rely purely on faith, and that is the hard thing. The very hard thing.