Nathan Castle, O.P.
teacher, preacher, workshop facilitator


Having the Heart of A Child

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands upon them.  When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Luke 18: 15-17

Heart Photo #1 The Divine has many faces. For me, Jesus the Christ is the human face of God. He is God, humbly becoming human, weak, vulnerable and wonderful like all of us. Maybe you have a different idea of your Higher Power. Whatever our destination, whatever our truest eternal home is, it’s Something or Someone we receive.

Don’t be afraid! I’m not trying to turn anyone into anything. I’m a Catholic. “Catholic” means universal.  I belong to the universe, not only to a religious denomination. Catholic Christians are the family in which I’ve been raised, a family that I love and that sometimes drives me crazy. I’m just trying, with the Spirit’s help, to love everybody all the time. Including you.

 

What is the kingdom of God Jesus spoke of? Is it heaven, a faraway or very nearby place? Is it an overlapping dimension? Is it in the air we breathe? Is it the love between all who love?

I know it’s our eternal home now and forever. It’s full of joy and peace. Children “get it” and receive it in a way adults only used to. An adult who is “old at heart” won’t want to enter Disneyland. The child runs laughing through the gates, ready for every adventurous ride.

Heart Photo #2Have you met Meister Eckhart, the 13th and 14th century German mystic? He was a Dominican Catholic priest, as I am. He examined his conscience each night before going to sleep. He wanted all of life and goodness and creation and everything. He wanted the whole candy store. But he knew he would sometimes waste a day worrying or resenting or in some way growing “old in heart.” He’d look back over the day just passed and ask, in the Spirit, “Did I get younger today?” When his heart told him NO, he’d apologize to God and promise to grow two days younger tomorrow. Then he’d go to sleep.

I believe we’re all hybrid beings. We’re timeless, ageless spirits living in a temporal and temporary body. We can get a day older on the outside while growing a day (or two) younger on the inside.

Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it’s very hard. Sometimes it’s terribly hard and it hardens us. Children of God who’ve grown old inside always have their reasons. Everybody has a story, usually many stories. Many of those stay bottled up and unheard.

My computer has a homepage. I venture out into the worldwide web from there, but always return home again. Home can be a safe harbor. Home can be a place where you belong. Nothing feels foreign at home. Home is relaxing. Home is where you rest and recharge. Home doesn’t always have to have a familiar address. Some people feel at home wherever they go.

Some spend their lives creating a home for others.  Some help others find their way home. That’s what I do. Home is where the heart is. It’s within you and always has been. If you’re lost and don’t know the way home, look inside.

I like to be a guide, companion and fellow-traveler. While I try to help others find their way home I guide when appropriate or just walk with.  Companion means “one who eats bread with.” Eating alone gets old.

No one wants a know-it-all companion. I don’t have it all figured out; I need my own guides. But there is some terrain I’m familiar with that might be unfamiliar to you. I may be able to help you. I hope so.

Have you met my friend, Saint Augustine? He had a complicated, frustrating and painful start in life. But something happened, and he found his way home. This is how he put the experience in words: (He calls God, Source, Creator Spirit, or Higher Power simply “Beauty.”)

Late have I loved you,
Beauty ever ancient, ever new!
Late have I loved you.
And, behold, you were within me,
And I outside myself,
And there I sought you.

Confessions X, 27

If you feel lost inside, maybe I can help. If you hire me to be present at an event, you’ll get all of me. I may look like a 59 year-old priest on the outside, but I’ll bring with me the kid inside. That’s why I often have my kindergarten photo beside my current head-shot. We’ll both show up.