"A Surrendered Heart" by Chip Coates
Last year I spent two happy months at Providence House, our place for formation for new Sisters. Not having cooked in about 30 years, I observed my co-Sisters preparing delicious meals. Part of their culinary secrets seemed to be the marinade. Somehow the marinade and the barbeque would transform the menu into something really delectable.
After watching this for a week or two, I volunteered to make the evening supper. The menu: hot dogs! These were not ordinary hot dogs, mind you; I had marinated them in Greek seasoning and anything else that looked interesting in the spice cupboard. Of course, when this was discovered the “real chefs” really got a good laugh, although personally I thought the hot dogs were acceptable!
This week I am reading Tatoos on the Heart by Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J., the priest who works with thousands of gang members in East L.A. This anecdote about letting things marinate in your heart really touched me.
“Rascal is not one to take advice. He can be recalcitrant, defensive, and primed for the fight. Well into his thirties, he’s a survivor. His truck gets filled with scrap metal and with this, somehow, he feeds his kids and manages to stay on this side of eviction. To his credit, he bid prison time and gang-banging good-bye a long time ago. Rascal sometimes hits me up for funds, and I oblige if I have it AND if his attitude doesn’t foul my mood too much. But you can’t tell him anything—except this one day he actually listens. I am going on about something-can’t remember what but I can see he’s listening. When I’m done he simply says, “You know, I’m gonna take that advice, and I’m going to let it marinate,'”pointing at his heart, “right here”.
Perhaps we should all marinate in the intimacy of God. Genesis, I suppose, got it right–“In the beginning, God.” Ignatius of Loyola spoke about the task if marinating in “the God who is always greater.”
Ignatius writes, “Take care always to keep before your eyes, first, God.” The secret of course, of the ministry of Jesus was that God was at the center of it. Jesus chose to marinate in the God who is always greater than our tiny conception, the God who “loves without measure and without regret.” To anchor yourself in this, to keep before your eyes this God is to choose to be intoxicated, marinated in the fullness of God. An Algerian Trappist, before his martyrdom, spoke to this fullness: “When you fill my heart, my eyes overflow.”
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