You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘conversion of heart’ tag.

In today’s quiet, I returned to the lyrics of the protest song, Sounds of Silence (1964), its symbols pin-pricking the Alice-in-Wonderland world shapeshifting around its composer Paul Simon. Then, it was the war in Vietnam, with nightly footage of its atrocities numbing many viewers into powerlessness, voicelessness. Something was very wrong in our world. Switching channels helped.-

In my perception, Sounds of Silence still evokes shudders and speaks to our country’s splintering beneath heaps of social, political, and economic disorders. Morals no longer work; in their place, the bastardization of language.

The protest song opens with the imprint of a powerful dream upon the narrator that commands its communication to

People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

And at a later disaster was heard: “Just keep them quiet,” said one of the terrorists on the phone recovered from the debris of United flight 93.

The lyrics continue as if echoing Yahweh’s pleas in the Psalms:  

“Fools”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

The warning was given. Yet, with passing years, even more trivia has dulled imaginations, stoked hot pursuit of substances, and atrophied psyches—even evolving into monster-like-minions of

 the neon god they made

The timeliness of conversion of heart has never been so urgent—it can be done.

So it’s about the Hebraic conversion of heart, shuv, the ongoing response to my sinfulness, as found in the Mosaic Law. Convinced that I am powerless to effect this existential change on my own, I rely upon the psalmist’s prayer, “Create, O God, a clean heart within me!” or simply, the mantra, ”Mercy!” together with working the Twelve Steps.

In my perception, however, the concept of sin appears forgotten or unimportant by many, from the global elite to street gangs to the politically and socially and academically prominent. Even spiritual leadership rots in its sanctuaries. Few to none participate in the world of the unconscious, source of dreams and spiritual direction. Instincts have a field day spinning subtle errors; recourse to head-language sets norms for what’s called moral behavior, until accepted in common practice.

Such unbridled insanity/sin leave the psyche’s doors wide open for the ravages of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: war, famine, pestilence, and death. The media reports their galloping the high and low roads of our globe; they are everywhere. Chronic shuddering attests to their presence—No denial or substance abuse can assuage their terror. “Getting back to normal” seems illusory.

As bleak as this scenario appears, conversion of heart still works; its access requires rigorous honesty and humility and simplicity, within the context of prayerful solitude. We are not God and never have been.

I intended to begin these reflections on sin with yesterday’s blog on my thievery, evidence of my flawed nature and part of the human condition. Only when I began working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous did I understand the full implications of honesty.

I still remember my first meeting, September 16, 1991, at the Lindell Club, across the street where I lived. Not knowing I was a newcomer, the chairperson, a cab driver, asked me to read the opening, “How It Works” from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Tucked in the first paragraph was this sentence: “…There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest….”

I identified with those grave emotional and mental disorders: it was my behavior they were referring to, disorders, I later recognized as sin; and rigorous honesty, its antidote. A whole new world opened before me that demanded relating with the new God of my understanding. And so it has been ever since.

Yet, it was a painstaking to own the drift of my destructive instincts for social recognition, security, and sexual fulfillment—all riding atop fears that I would lose what I had or would not get what I wanted. Daily contacts with others in recovery also helped identify my Seven Deadly Sins, and the way out, through admission and forgiveness.

However, the Seven Deadlies still lie dormant in my unconscious and can be triggered, any time—Anger and pride remain troublesome, given my long terminal illness.

Such exercises in rigorous honesty help me name the sinfulness of our broken world that I’ll consider in the next blog, with its antidote: global conversion of heart.

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: