By Ven. Graham Bland
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
In 1807, William Wordsworth laments the loss of our humanity in the Industrial Revolution: “We have given our hearts away!”
This may be a commentary on our own times, too. Except now, our losses may even be compounded. The economic machine grinds down and threatens our human nature and is an existential danger for the wider Nature to which we belong. ‘Growth!’ is the watchword - yet, with enormous irony, it only signals our diminishment. “We lay waste our powers ... We have given our hearts away.”
Later in the 1800s, in some other ‘Bleak Midwinter’, Christina Rossetti asks and answers:
“What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.”
Consider the world of difference between ‘giving our hearts’ and ‘giving our hearts away’. Wordsworth laments that by our ‘getting and spending’ we sacrifice of our hearts. He longs for us to recover our hearts, to ‘spend’ our days, our energies and our lives in harmony with Nature, rather than at odds with Her.
‘Give your heart’ ... to something or to someone who cares about you – God or Nature − and your heart swells within you to empower you and enlarge your spirit.
‘Give your heart away’ ... to someone or something who cares not a bit about you − and you shrink, lose your power and your spirit is diminished.
Stewardship – the subject of this article – is about a choice I make as a disciple of Jesus. It is not so much a choice about how I use my time, talents and treasure. All of that flows from a more important choice ...
Disciples of Jesus ask: Have I chosen to ‘give my heart away’ to some lesser god? Must I, therefore, choose to reclaim it and ‘give my heart’ again to God’s will and ways? For in God, my heart and soul will grow and thrive, and all Nature will sing in me once more.
What can I give Him, poor as I am? ... Give my heart.
Graham Bland writes for the Diocese of Huron Stewardship Committee.