Friday, August 31, 2007

Knowing By Heart

Psalm 139:1-4 (New International Version)
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue

you know it completely, O LORD.

Her husband of forty or so years was doing the talking, but I was watching her. Her subtle response to what he was saying was priceless to observe.

I don't remember what he was saying, but I remember every slight shift of her expression.

She had no idea that she was being so acutely observed; that I saw her quick glance away as he spoke; the merry twinkle of the eye; the lips pressed together as if to hold back the words that threatened to escape--and the tiniest of smiles. All of them combined to say, "I love that man, but right now he's singing a familiar song that doesn't make as much sense as he thinks it does--and I'm not saying a word."

Her response made me think of that poignantly beautiful song, recorded by Eva Cassidy, I Know You By Heart. And I thought, is there anything better than to be known by heart? I don't think so.

Being known by heart in human relationships is hard won, whether in a marriage or friendship. It is forged in the fires of misunderstanding and tears and is the precious fruit of persistence and faithfulness to one another in spite of the occasional urge to throw something--hard.

Fear keeps some from being known by heart--no-one gets past the heavily guarded door that guards it. Oh what they miss.

I cherish my close relationships--the ones where we fit like a foot in a comfortable old slipper or a key in a lock. I fall back upon them as into soft, supportive pillows. In these relationships I can show the side of me that is weak and flawed and know that I am still loved.

The Bible says that there is one who knows us even more intimately than the most intimate of friends--and loves us still. He knows us by heart.

Psalm 139:15-17 (New International Version)

15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them.

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