In this song by Sarah Blasko the emphasis is on the present moment, the now of life – the place of healing and “precious time”, where we can “play our part” and “make our mark”. Heaven Sent invites us to live from the now of the heart; and it is also an appeal to not allow religious belief to get in the way of living now.
The song is somewhat agnostic. This is the experience of many today. Assuming there is a heaven and a God, many it seems have no way of knowing this, of finding out (regardless of whether they want to or not). As religious belief is overlooked, guidance into any consciousness of heaven and divinity is being lost.
But what of faith? Is it the same as belief?
The heart, as the place of communion and relationship, is also a place of faith in the other. The closer we get to someone, the more faith we have in them.
Belief without this faith is like theory without practice. Without faith of the heart, any belief, religious or otherwise, can be dry and formulaic. If we are not careful, this kind of belief can become a kind of defining line between the ‘us’ who have this belief, and the ‘them’ who do not; it becomes dogmatic, ideological.
This kind of ‘unfaithful belief’ seems to be the kind that Heaven Sent is pushing against. It is more intellectual, of the head, and somewhat ‘heart-less’.
Belief need not be like this. Healthy belief serves the heart, it does not dominate or replace faith. It is, instead, faith that shapes and informs healthy belief. Belief can then become an expression of an inclusive and open faith of the heart.
Belief that is not inclusive and open can rupture our faith in each other and make Religion irrelevant. Consequently, many today have no time for exclusive, ‘us and them’ religious belief statements. Heaven Sent is a reflection on what is possible for many when excluding beliefs are set aside.
Yet is it necessary to cast aside all religious belief in the interests of openness and equal relationship? What if a belief is inclusive enough? If a belief is ‘heart-shaped’, then yes, a religious belief could fit alongside agnostic and atheistic beliefs. What is key is that all belief be inclusive and open enough.
What about, for example, this statement from John’s Gospel: Jesus said…, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). When this is read more as a statement of intellectual belief, then it does read as excluding, as ‘us and them’: those who are not Christian will never know God, while those who are will. Is there someway this passage from John could become more ‘heart-shaped’, more faithful?
A contemplative prayer practice can help make this statement more inclusive and open for today. Contemplative prayer is of the heart first; it is about growing in the experience of faithful communion in and with the God-life. The God-life is before words and belief; it is radically inclusive and loving.
Meditation, as contemplative prayer, invites us to put belief and words aside as we commune now with this divinity of the heart that inspires belief. As this happens, belief statements change, they become more faithful to, more reflective of, this radically inclusive and loving God.
Before Jesus of Nazareth there was, in Christian terms, the Logos – the creative and divine reality through which creation came into being. This Logos lives within all things and hearts; it seeks full human expression through all, religious and secular alike. This Logos, this creative dynamic of life, was not just expressed by Jesus. Thanks to Jesus’ radical openness to the God-life, those in relationship with him, who had faith in him, saw that he was this Logos. This heart-seeing continues today.
When John 14:6 is seen with this deep heart-sight, it becomes easier to see that it was not meant to exclude; the statement itself is a welling up from the Logos-heart of Jesus, one that is inclusive and prophetic; it is faithful to the fully inclusive and fully loving life of God. With God there is no us and them – all are loved.
This kind of faithful belief, a belief many see as faithful to the heart of Jesus, may not be the kind of belief that Heaven Sent alludes to, and yet it is a belief that resonates with its lyric:
You and I are moving in the same realm
Regardless of our views on heaven and hell
So let’s commune before this precious time ends Reflections of the light that is surrounding