The Heart of the World

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Artist’s image of the Sacred Heart I “happened” upon while on retreat

Sometimes I need to reground. Connect with my center again.


With all that’s been surfacing lately – within the world and within myself – I knew I needed a day away. I planned it for October 10th – my 36th wedding anniversary. A day when I feel especially held and embraced by love.

I knew I’d feel the spiritual support I needed.

I chose my favorite place – a Franciscan retreat center in New Mexico. A place with real wide-trunk trees and leaves that actually curled and floated to the ground, crunching underfoot, making me feel like fall has truly arrived.

It’s no Sevenoaks (in Madison, Virginia), but it’s probably as close I’ll get to it around here.

Holy Cross tree
A wide-trunk tree is cause for joy in New Mexico

Why? Because I hear the invitation.

I hear an invitation to let go of “distractions,” like Martha in the Gospel story, distracted by so many things when only one thing matters.

The Divine invites my mind to rest. My heart to awaken. My soul to remember.


Only when I am still and my mind is silent can I remember who I am and whose I am.

Only then can I “hear” the voice of the Divine calling me “beloved.”


And from this place, I can reflect more easily on this heart of God. The heart that I’ve been asked to receive in that meditation. This heart of the world that bleeds for all, yet doesn’t die. This heart that never stops loving.

But in reflecting on this heart, I also hear another invitation. An invitation to let down my boundaries. The self-imposed ones I created to protect me, to keep me safe. I recognize them very clearly in this place. I see how they’re holding me back.

What if I cross these boundaries?

Is that the invitation I’m hearing now? To cross the boundaries that prevent me from knowing who I am eternally in God? Boundaries that prevent me from knowing myself “hidden with Christ in God forever”?

What if I then discover that we all belong to this Heart? That no one and nothing can exist apart from it? That we are never separated from the heart of God? Even when we’re unaware. Or we reject it. Or we think we don’t deserve it.

No one and nothing is excluded.

Sacred Heart

It’s one heart. And it’s the heart of the world.

I’ve created my own collage of this heart. Cutting out photos that cause strong reactions in me. Pasting these tiny pictures into a heart-shaped image. A sacred heart where everyone is included.


From innocent children to violent gang members. From poets to presidents. From Mexican immigrants to poverty-stricken Nigerians. From Jihab-wearing women to white supremacists. They all fit in this bleeding, bulging, beating heart.

It causes me to weep. And to soften, so that, ever so gently, I can move beyond my self-imposed boundaries. Into the very center of this sacred heart.

And I just may find that I wake up on the inside of understanding the intimate immediacy of the One who calls me “beloved.”


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My collage of the sacred heart of the world

7 thoughts on “The Heart of the World

  1. Rob Morrell

    Dear Pauline –

    Thank you (again) for a stirring reflection to sit with – and ponder.

    It is a challenge to genuinely embrace the reality that each of us, despite all of our faults and shortcomings, is loved, thoroughly and deeply and unabashedly, by God. Humbling, yes, and wonderful, to be sure, but also challenging!

    Why? In part because it can literally be stunning to take in, even momentarily, such unconditional love. And because, to use the (clichéd but true) corollary that flows from this realization and makes us squirm, it means that God loves Hitler as much as God loves Mother Teresa. And, in our incomplete and imperfect humanity, we are called to do the same.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Susan Dougherty

    Pauline, I am always so happy when I discover one of your blog posts in my inbox. Without fail, they always speak to my heart and capture in words thoughts and feelings I’ve been unable to express. This one surely does not disappoint! If anyone has crossed boundaries, it seems that you have! I pray for the courage, confidence, and trust to do the same. Thank you! Blessings, Sue

    On Friday, October 13, 2017, A Journey of the Heart wrote:

    > Pauline posted: ” Sometimes I need to reground. Connect with my center > again. With all that’s been surfacing lately – within the world and > within myself – I knew I needed a day away. I planned it for October 10th – > my 36th wedding anniversary. A day when I feel ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pauline, as usual your writing has touched me deeply. I need to be reminded over and over of humanity’s oneness in the heart of God. Lately I’ve been listening to two of John McCurcheon’s songs—“Calling All the Children Home” and “Y’all Means All.” Both express that same sort of universality of humanity, but not so beautifully as you have. May I share this with a few friends?
    I pray that God will continue to hold you close and bless your ministry. Grace.

    Liked by 1 person

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