Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heart Surgery

I recently read up on St. Teresa of Avila, so the word of the day is: transverberation.

For some reason, my spell check doesn’t know that word. Okay, I admit that I didn’t either.

Transverberation is described as, “a mystical grace wherein the Saint’s heart was pierced by a dart of love by an angel.” (Click here for more)

It caught my attention not only because of the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious nature of the word (by the way, my spell check does recognize Mary Poppins’ word), but also because my small group had been discussing heart piercings recently.

As in Acts, when the hearers of Peter’s Pentecost sermon were “cut to the heart.” Our group was mostly focused on the language – which did better justice to the sentiment?

King James: “pricked in the heart” – sounds like a junior high prank.

Contemporary English: “they were upset” -- don’t get me started.

New American Standard: “pierced to the heart” – very poetic, but we still preferred the NIV:

“Cut to the heart.”

Many ways to be cut to the heart – by reason, by conscience, by compassion.

The shock and awe of coming face to face with the “moreness” of the universe.

The look in a friend’s eye, as we both realized I betrayed him.

Watching a child try to comfort a mourning adult.

They are big moments, those heart exposers, when perspective comes in clarity. Always painful – but sometimes that is a good thing. Not in the “hurt so good” way of the song, where the pain itself is looked to for pleasure.

But rather in the stripping away of that which would prevent the positive – prevent the reason, or the compassion, or the growth.

Or for Teresa, the love. The direct infusion of love straight into the core of her being.

I imagine that kind of love would be painful enough to leave a scar. (It did, by the way.)

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never experienced transverberation – very few individuals in the history of mankind have. I haven’t come close.

But hold dear to any cuts to the heart that you have had – they are rare gifts. Even in the pain.

And to keep from being maudlin, I leave you with a song that always cuts to the heart – the beautiful, haunting and mournful, Danny Boy.

Oh boy, oh boy.

Just my thoughts,



David Goulet said...

I just watched an Italian film about Padre Pio's life which parallels Theresa's with its divine pain. Padre Pio of course experienced the stigmata.

People fortunate(?) enough to experience this pain seem to walk the line between the natural world and the supernatural. Quite the calling to be sure.

But as you rightly point out, each of us is called to carry some degree of divine pain. It is a blessing, though it feels far from it at times.

Clare said...

Oh, Sean, I just read this post! As you know last week I was with my Dad who's going through some medical stuff and suffering from some dementia and it's been so hard and anyway he was given a trial treatment one morning and that night he felt so good, he felt so much like his old self -- one that neither my Mum nor I have seen in a couple of years -- that he sang. He sang perfectly, every word to Danny Boy... And my Mum and I were cut to the heart. Deeply, madly, truly.

Gaffney said...


Nathan said...

This was for us, Sean. Thank you.

~ N + K