A TIME TO OPEN UP OUR HEARTS

                              
      A few months ago I had open heart surgery from which I have recovered and I am doing quite nicely. I still have a few more cardiac rehab sessions to complete however, I feel like I have my “groove back” and I am ready to resume writing on my blog.  I do want to thank all of you for your many kind words and prayers during my illness and I also want to affirm the goodness and the Grace of the God of my life and yours as I am returning to full health and strength.
      I need not tell you how toxic and mean spirited this election cycle of 2016 has been.  The politicians rhetoric has created unintended consequences creating a frightening tone that is quite frankly an embarrassment to our country. It seems we have lost our bearing and have forgotten the many large and small blessings provided to this great country we live in?  Perhaps our cups have been running over too much lately as we are consumed by the via negative of the rhetoric and speeches of the candidates running for POTUS?  Maybe there has been too much of our turning on each other rather than turning to each other. In an effort to climb out from under the endless bombardment of negativity I sought and found a way to open up my heart.  It wasn’t until I listened to Gospel Artist Yolanda Adams singing at the Kennedy Center on January 18th in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, that I realized I had found a way out.  There is a link to this celebration which I encourage you to listen to because it will give you an opportunity to “open up your heart.” I was in the audience that evening.  Here is the link:
      You and I must always, always be on the hunt for an opening to lead us out of whatever is ailing our spirits.  We must always be on the hunt for that which makes us come alive and keeps us from going over the edge.  There is always an opening for us but we have to be disciplined in order to see, feel and find that opening. To do this is no easy task to be sure.  When our soul is in the lost and found and no one comes along to claim us it requires a lot from us to find an opening.  I do not take this lightly because I am not always disciplined enough to handle my discomforts. During my recovery from open heart surgery I was having severe issue with pain and the only thing that could stop my pain at that moment was the drug Percocet.  While I knew the importance of prayer and meditation and my dependence upon God, I realized my need at the center of my pain was not for God, rather it was for Percocet.  It was an honest recognition and I had to deal with it until I could find a way to wean myself off of the medicine and find my way back to the God of my life.  You have to do the same thing as you consider how easily it has been for you and me to sink into despair and anger as a result of the cruel and hateful rhetoric of some of the candidates running for POTUS.
      Early this morning I came downstairs to my office (my man cave) and I first listened to the silence of my house (it was 4:30AM).  Slowly but surely, my anxieties and disappointments and hurts began appearing before me.  The night before I had gotten some disappointing news. I had also been restless as a result of the disappointing losses of my NCAA basketball teams.  What to do?  In the silence I remembered how I felt sitting in the audience at the Kennedy Center here in Washington, D.C. so I put on my earphones and began listening to the first song by the Let Freedom Ring choir “Woke Up this Morning with my Mind stayed on Freedom”.  Within a few minutes I found myself feeling energized and hopeful.  Within minutes my disappointments seemed so pointless in the scheme of things.  Within moments I realized that song and Yolanda Adam’s song “Open Up My Heart” was exactly what I needed.  You and I need to find ways to open up our heart so we will no longer wade in the waters of the via negative.  Opening up my heart is what I am called to do but I had forgotten how to do that. I was guilty of the things Donald Trump and his followers are guilty of and that is responding out of anger to life’s offerings. Decisions made out of anger are almost always going to bite us in the back.  Make a list of the things that make you angry?  This is a necessary first step as far as I am concerned.  Next, ask yourself ” what part did I play in causing my anger? You must be brutally honest when making your list otherwise your anger will not subside. I began to understand that “its me, its me, its me O, Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
      Finally, I ask that you take a few minutes and think about opening up your heart.  Perhaps you forgot you woke up this morning in a clean, warm home with no worries about having food on your table.  Perhaps you forgot about the refugee crises as you sat comfortably on your couch or favorite chair as the refugees “found no room in the inn.”  Or maybe you felt tearful as you saw the photo of a mother with a child in her arms and her other two children clinging onto her crying because they do not understand what is happening.  Most of us have not experienced the tyranny that has caused so many to flee their homes with only the clothes on their backs?  Please open up your own heart so you may open your heart up to another.  Open up your heart to the realities of what makes you cry and what it takes to make you whole again?  Open up your heart to the needs of others whose futures have been robbed by war, famine and the greed of ruthless political leaders. Open up your heart so you can truly listen for the sound of the genuine in yourself first and then hearing the sound of the genuine in others.  I can tell you when you can listen to the sound of the genuine in yourself, you will hear more clearly the sound of the genuine in others.  I return to the words of Yolanda Adams: So I need to talk to you and ask you for your Guidance Especially today when my world seems cloudy guide me until I’m sure, I open up my heart. . .so show me how to do things your way don’t let me make the same mistakes over and over again your will be done and I’ll be the one to make sure it’s carried out and in me, I don’t want any doubts and that’s why I open up my heart.”
Now there it is good people.
I say to you today, Please Open Up Your heart.
And so it is,  Dr. Paul

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