When I spend time in prayer and meditation, sometimes I go very deeply into a place that allows me to imagine or experience profound insights. Often when I meditate, I imagine Jesus sitting directly across from me, so close that our knees could touch.
One day, I was sitting at our home altar, candles and incense lit, breathing slowly and deeply and imagining again that Jesus was sitting across from me. I have always been moved by the story of the woman who had been hemorrhaging for years and who knew, if she could simply touch Jesus’ cloak, she would be healed. I sometimes hold my hand out, eyes closed, and imagine feeling the coarse fabric of his cloak as well. I held out my hand on this day, and to my surprise, Jesus took it and placed it on his heart. Looking compassionately into my eyes (though they were closed), he said to me, “You are here.”
“You are here.” In his heart. In God’s heart. You are here. You are loved. You are enough. “Do you understand?” Looking into the deep wells of his eyes, I said, “Yes.” I felt joy! I felt included. I felt warmth. God’s heart beating with love…for me! Experiencing such unconditional love is life-changing. I ended my prayer session, blew out the candles, and rang the bell and stood up to go about my day.
Later, as I was doing household chores, I could hear my upstairs neighbor arguing with his mother and stomping around. I looked exasperatedly up at the ceiling thinking, oh, brother, not this again! That lazy young man needs to get a job and stop mooching off of his mother!
Suddenly, as if seeing Jesus again, his hand to his heart, I heard someone say, “He is here also.” The upstairs neighbor is in Jesus’ heart also. “Do you understand?” he asked. Thinking of the great compassion I knew from his eyes, I thought, yes, I understand. Jesus, God, loves this young man with every ounce of the same care that he holds for me.
Now, as I go about my days, when I look around at the people I see on the streets, in shops, at church, in my family, those whom I love, those who irritate me, those who differ with and from me, it’s as if Jesus is standing beside me on the sidewalk saying, “They are all in my heart. Just as you are. Do you understand?”
That’s why my heart is growing softer, day-by-day. How can I harbor ill-will, anger, and irritation for those others who live in Jesus’ heart just as surely as I do? That doesn’t mean that I go soft to the point of lying down to injustice, to unfairness, to evil. But it does ask of me to go about these tasks differently. It demands that I treat all people with dignity, with love, even if I disagree with them. We are all in his heart.