Blessed are the pure in heart

From this morning’s Daily Office readings:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

I like that. I would like to see God. I would like to see God more clearly. I would like to be able to share that clear, precise vision with those around me.

But if my heart were a glass of water, you would not want to drink that.

Do you remember that exercise in water purification using evaporation and condensation? Stick a mess of sludge in a cup, and heat it up. Capture the rising steam, and direct it away from the heat source through tubing toward a clean, empty container. As it cools, watch the clean(er) water drip quietly into the waiting container, leaving the mess of (now drier) sludge behind.

If water had feelings, this process might not be its favourite. It takes time, energy, letting go of stuff, travelling. Applied heat, successive changes of state, cooling, condensing, funelling, falling … Do I want my heart put through that?

If I end up seeing a clear pool reflecting the image of God instead of a mess, maybe I can face that. If it ends up that what I have to offer my brothers and sisters is a cool, clear cup of water, instead of a beaker of warm sludge, it’s probably worth it.

I have a hunch that grace works on impure hearts a little bit less like a magic wand would, and little bit more like a middle school science project might. It takes time (a lifetime), and perseverance (and prayer), and trust in the One in charge of the experiment. So despite the heat, and the work, and the difficult metamorphoses, and the funnelling and the falling – despite all that I continue to pray that God will continue to work on blessing my impure little heart.

Because right now, if my heart were a glass of water, you wouldn’t want to drink that.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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