Hungry Heart

Hungry in the Heart of Summerbruce springsteen

The Second reading this weekend bears a line from scripture accredited to St. Paul that is often quoted in Christian circles. “Faith is the assurance of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1

I need the gift of hope as we move closer to Autumn, because I constantly bear the dream I bore as a child – the desire for endless summer. The fantasy in which my eyelids would fall heavy in the soft cooling of an August night, and as my body would yield in the relinquishing of another hot day, I could imagine one more ballgame, one more water park, one more family reunion, one more barbecue. I yearned for these things. I longed for them, and many times my pleasure was fulfilled and many times it was not, but what a grace to live in the midst of hope!

As we march further into August, I’m reminded that in short order, summer will end. I feel the kiss of anxiety touch me as I ponder what that means. Did I get it all done? Are all the projects and repairs on the home completed? Did I see the friends I wanted to see? Did I have enough days to enjoy the sunshine? Did I make it to the street festivals and concerts I wanted to?

The short answer is “No. I did not.” Even though I accomplished so much that brought me joy.

Perhaps you have been more successful than me? Perhaps less? But for just a minute, let’s not worry about whether you got things done and instead worry about what desire means to our spiritual life.

One thing I have learned about Saint Andrew parishioners is that there a lot of successful people here, people who set goals and get them done. People who achieve and are accustomed to the satisfaction of reaching significant accomplishments. This is a good thing, and is rooted in the goodness of creation. God empowers and rejoices in our ability to succeed. But God’s love does not end there.

There are pitfalls to being successful. When we as human persons are “high-functioning” as many in this parish are, the tendency is to become confident in one’s own abilities. This can leave a vacancy in our relationship to God. Successful people tend to wane from recognizing their dependency on God because they think they “have it all figured out.” That is why in the book 7 Keys of Spiritual Wellness (which we are invited to read as a parish this year) a whole section of chapter 5 is written to illuminate the wisdom found in twelve step programs.

If you have never been part of a twelve step program, you may not be aware of a spiritual wisdom that recovering addicts know well. We are all broken, all powerless, and we all need God. Paradoxically, in the admission of having limited power, a greater power is received, one that flows from our relationship with God. From this relationship, we live in the grace that both satisfies the hunger of our cravings, while admitting we crave more.

The songwriter Bruce Springsteen describes this phenomenon in his well known anthem “Hungry Heart.” With a familiar chorus which resonates with our own experience, we can hear the melody even as we read the words, “Everybody’s got a hungry heart / Lay down your money and you play your part/ Everybody’s got a hungry heart.” It is our nature, in our very soul, that we are hungry for something, and nothing that we can craft, create, or consume actually fills that hunger. Desire constantly outstrips satisfaction in an endless cycle which oft leads us wearily towards despair.

And then there is the gift of hope, a gift of assurance that comes from accepting limitation and living in the grace of temperance, a gift given to us when we open our hearts to God. For the summer will end, there will always be another project, and we will always be consumed by our desires until our greatest desire becomes God.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

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