Letter from Roger Tarbuck, April 2016

 The Troubled Heart

In our quiet times, in our moments of devotion or meditation, we should try not to become too complicated.  There is a tendency for personal prayer and meditation, over a period of time, to get rather convoluted.  It is then that we need to get back to something very simple. When our head spins and life gets top-heavy, and we find ourselves spiritually battling through it as if we were struggling through deep snow, the relief can be enormous if we stop it all and go back to a simple sentence, such as: “Let not your heart be troubled”, or words like “Peace, peace, peace”, or, for humanists, just “One, One, One”.

If we stop all our pleading and hammering away at heaven’s door (or Life’s door, if you like), and just meditate on a few simple words, we shall find that our peace of mind is coming back.  It may not happen all at once; a little time may be needed.  This is the medicine for the troubled heart.  Words like these are good words – pure and simple expressions of the spirit – and they bring comfort.  The expression of the spirit in such words is like the loving touch of God, giving voice to it in the simplest way.

We all have a troubled heart – some of us more than others.  We all need comfort from time to time.  And we are all afraid.  Don’t believe anyone who says that they are never afraid.  They are not only afraid, but also afraid of recognising their fear.

The healing of the troubled heart comes before all other healing.  With a heart at peace, we can bear all kinds of sickness and hardship, and there is nothing better for healing the troubled heart than our religion.  The spirit lies in and through human history, but for much of the time we are unheeding, and we need special injections of it in order to bring it to our attention.  Too often these injections involve complex and often boring practices, with wide gaps here and there, but the best means of carrying these doses to us are not complicated.  They are extremely simple.  The most powerful spiritual messages come in the simplest words, and these are the easiest to remember.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  Please allow me to repeat this sentence from my last letter.  Who can deny the value of these words from John’s Gospel: their power, their comfort, their healing.  Whatever our opinion of the Gospel of John, no one can deny the simple goodness of words such as these.  And there are loads of simple expressions of beauty, goodness, truth, strength, peace and comfort all over the place.

The troubled heart makes us afraid, and when we are afraid, we hurt ourselves and others too.  The troubled heart makes us what we are not.  It may make us hard when we are gentle, forgetful of others when we really are quite kind.  It removes us from the love of God and stops us from being a channel for that love.  The first task of religion is to help us to lose our troubled heart, to bring peace to our body, our mind, our spirit, so that we are no longer afraid.  Such peace will give us a positive attitude, indicating a broader horizon and a sense of the eternal love that lies in and through and beyond us all and the world that we live in.

Yours sincerely, Roger Tarbuck