Cave of the Heart is the title song of a John Michael Talbot album from l999.  I have always been intrigued by the lyrics repeated throughout the song:  “You are seated in freedom in the cave of the heart.”  I am challenged by certain words: “Silence your heart/Silence your soul/stilling your senses/with single-minded devotion.”  I have been troubled by some as well: “How can the troubled mind/understand his ways?/If your thoughts are troubled/You cannot find the wisdom.”  

I can also identify with particular words: “Like a fish out of water/Stranded upon the shore/Thoughts thrash and they quiver/How can you shake off the chains of desire.”  If only I could deal with these deep, mysterious desires that come from deep in the cave of the heart.  “They tremble unsteady/They wander at will/It is good to control them/To master them it will bring you joy.”  

St. John of the Cross talked about the “caverns” of the soul.  He is calling  attention to the deepest places of the soul; to our center where God dwells. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). The capacity of the soul is infinite. It is beyond consciousness and beneath our understanding and experience. “These caverns are deep because the object of this capacity, namely God, is profound and infinite…their capacity is infinite, their thirst is infinite, their hunger is also deep and infinite…”   

I have a new appreciation for the “capacity” of my soul.  While finding new freedom, I still shy away from the depths of my soul. The caverns remain shrouded in darkness because I can neither comprehend nor manage what is found in these deep places.  It is a space that contains the story of my life, including painful memories and long forgotten vows which still hold a tight grip on my responses to everyday life.

Men, you might not like to be reminded of the “cave of the heart.”  But it is found at your center, dictating more of your conscious life then you would care to admit.  Remember Jesus told us, “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness – all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution” (Mark 7:20-23 – Message).  

Here is a confession:  It  happened recently – again – with my wife. I had a strong negative response during two separate conversations we had with others.  I shut down emotionally. I became quiet, not wanting to communicate.  I tuned out…   

I also felt confusion, condemnation, and shame. What was happening?  Pollution was coming from the cave of my heart.  By God’s grace, through the circumstances in my life, the pollution was coming to the surface.

Praise God, I am now admitting my struggle to my wife.  I cannot blame her for the way I responded.  I want to be honest in my responses and bring the pollution from the cave into the light.  Confession helps get rid of it.  I still don’t fully understand, but I feel more freedom in my responses.  I’m now more aware of the pollution and its causes. In this case it had to do with my mother. 

My point in this is that confession allows the pollution from the cave of the heart to come more into our consciousness.  It will begin to loosen its grip on the soul, allowing for discernment rather than reaction.  Pray with David (and me), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23).