God is not “out there somewhere” in some dramatic way, waiting to commune with us by earthquake or fire or signs in the sky. Instead, he desires to talk with us in the quietness of our own heart through his Spirit, who is in us. It is his voice that has whispered to us about a Sacred Romance. What do you hear when you listen for that gentle, quiet voice?
What I so often hear, or feel, is a restlessness, a distractedness where it seems that dozens if not hundreds of disconnected or scattered thoughts vie for my attention. Bits and pieces of my smaller story, and sometimes major edifices, flash onto the screen: what other people think of me and what I need to do to win them. Anger, ego, lust, and simply blankness of spirit all take turns occupying my heart.
Indeed, when I first listen to my heart, what I often hear is the language and clatter of my old “lovers” and not much else. There seems to be no stillness or rest. If I try to hold still, my soul reacts like a feather in the afternoon breeze, flitting from place to place without purpose or direction. I almost seem invisible in the noise or blankness. Theologians refer to this condition as “ontological lightness,” the reality that when I stop “doing” and simply listen to my heart, I am not anchored to anything substantive. I become aware that my very identity is synonymous with activity.
Our whole American culture is infected with ontological lightness, celebrities and pro athletes being the most dramatic examples of this victimization of our souls that ruins us for any substantive love relationship. They are anchored only to their performances, and out of their performances come their identities—and ours who worship them. As soon as they stop performing, their identities—and ours—disappear.
And that’s the memo.
By John Eldredge in an excerpt from Sacred Romance