Turning the Page

The Gentle Approach to Heart and Mind Change

February 18, 2021

There is a gentle approach to how the heart and mind can change. Instead of the force of a flood, it’s a refreshing rain. Let’s learn to absorb the goodness.

There is something very special to me about a nice soft rain shower in the middle of a dry summer. It soaks in, and the soil receives it as a gift of gentleness.

I have been involved in land-based businesses for many years. Gardening, horticulture, and farming. It’s those sweet, gentle summer rains that bring such refreshment.

Being like a sponge, the soil soaks up every drop. Then the microbes, fungi, bacteria, worms, and all the unseen world beneath our feet are replenished. Seeds germinate, trees flush with newness, and the land feels like it has been gently washed.

But it’s the downpours you have to watch for. Torrents of rain so heavy that they wash off the land, scouring hills, blocking drains, and flooding houses.

Learning and changing can be much like that.

Have you ever done a course of learning where it has been super intensive? That week-long course or maybe over a weekend.

You have had a downpour of information, and you come away exhausted by the amount you have been exposed to.

Your brain is at maximum capacity, and perhaps you wonder how much you actually took in. All those new learning bridges take energy and focus.

Gentle rain on the heart and mind

There is a gentleness on offer to help us in our need.

Slowly read and absorb these words that God speaks about how they provide wisdom for us.

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
    let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop like the rain,
    my speech condense like the dew;
like gentle rain on grass,
    like showers on new growth.
Deuteronomy 32:1, 2

It’s gentle and kind—washing and cleansing with kindness.

It’s not the volume that matters; instead, it’s the quiet presence of refreshment.

The droplet, not the drowning.

You’re soaking in it

Back in the 1980s here in New Zealand, there was a T.V. advertisement for Palmolive dishwashing liquid. The idea was that as you washed your dishes, the dishwashing liquid was also kind on your hands.

The one-liner from the ad was ‘You’re soaking in it.’

I want to be soaked in God’s kindness and wisdom. To be receptive to the gentleness of Spirit brings me the wisdom my heart and mind are thirsty for.

I want to hear and soak in the unforced rhythms of grace.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

The walk

Can I walk with you? I have some questions about what has happened and need to talk them over.

So we headed off to our little town. Questions opened our hearts to new ways of thinking and believing. All the events of the last few days were puzzling, to say the least.

Then another traveler joined us. He gave us some explanations and asked us questions. It was like fresh encouragement filling our dried-out souls. We had a meal with him and soaked up his kindness and love. It felt like a burning warmth in our hearts. Luke 24:13-35

Why aren’t we there yet?

We are quite a demanding people, aren’t we. We want change, and we want it on our terms.

In our minds, there is a timeline of expectation.

How many times do those providing therapy, spiritual direction, pastoral ministry, etc., hear these words.

‘I’ve been coming to you for so many sessions, and nothing seems to have changed.’ Why aren’t things better!’

Perhaps also you have made the recovery process a job, a work, a demand.

Absorbing the milliliter

Much of the deep work that we so desperately need does not come with a flood. We couldn’t handle it if it did. Instead, it comes as a trickle, a droplet, a milliliter of goodness.

It might be a little word that meditatively speaks to something we are struggling with. That Rhema word – The Right Word at the Right Time

As we mindfully ruminate and ponder on this droplet of goodness, things start to happen in the inner workings of our soul. New connections are made in the brain.

Powerful beliefs that have held us captive start to lose their strength. New avenues open up to us to explore. It’s endlessly mysterious and good.

Reread this passage and imagine yourself

May my teaching drop like the rain,
    my speech condense like the dew;
like gentle rain on grass,
    like showers on new growth.

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There is a gentle approach to how the heart and mind can change. Instead of the force of a flood, it’s a refreshing rain. Let’s learn to absorb the goodness.

Quotes to consider

  • The really great truths, like love and inner freedom, are not fully conceptual, and they can never be understood by reason alone. Richard Rohr Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality
  • Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest. Mark Buchanan
  • What profoundly saddens me is that most Christians have settled for beliefs instead of knowing. David Benner
  • The soul doesn’t develop in a straight line but in stages, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Imagine your life as a series of initiations, as you go from one life-changing experience to the next. Thomas Moore. Care of the Soul Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life
  • An intent to heal can get in the way of seeing. By doing less, more is accomplished. Thomas Moore. Care of the Soul Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life
  • To feel and imagine may not sound like much. But in care of the soul there is trust that nature heals, that much can be accomplished by not-doing. Thomas Moore. Care of the Soul Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life

Questions to consider

  1. What is it like to be ‘flooded’ with knowledge?
  2. Is there a particular verse or word that speaks to you from the passage? Let it soak in.
    May my teaching drop like the rain,
        my speech condense like the dew;
    like gentle rain on grass,
        like showers on new growth.
  3. Why do we try and force something that God wants us to absorb slowly?

Further reading

Barry Pearman

Photo by Ed Leszczynskl on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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