For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.
Today's Office of Readings contains an extract from the writing of the saint whose feast we celebrate, that great-hearted woman of prayer and passion Teresa of Avila. And if you'll forgive the play on words, the final sentence of the reading especially impressed itself on me.
If... the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts... We generally speak of an impression as a strong, lasting, at times intangible effect on us, a sense or assessment; but this is a shadow of the word's original meaning. It derives from something much deeper, stronger and indelible - the mark, or imprint, produced by pressure. In Teresa's time it would especially have referred to impressing a personal, recognisable seal in hot wax, or the imprint of those early printing presses, their heavy type causing indentations in paper, and I'm sure that this imprint, this recognisable seal, is what she meant when she wrote of God impressing his love on our hearts.
So I sit wondering what it must feel like, and how it comes about, this impressing of God's love on our hearts. There is, I'm sure, the pain of woundedness, but also the joy of freedom and openness - and the supreme joy of being truly of God. And then I wonder what this imprint looks like for each person - and what it looks like for me. Just as our life experiences make their mark on each of us in distinctive ways, deepening our uniqueness, so, I'm sure, God impresses his love on each heart in a different way, leaving a unique, distinctive mark... the mark of the love each one is called to be and to share.
I know what I hope my heart's imprint looks like... what about you?
May we all live, love and grow in such a way that God can readily grant all of us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, so that we may be that love - God's love - in and for our world...