“And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you: I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh; and I will put my spirit in you. Thus I will cause you to follow My laws and faithfully to observe my rules.”
As I studied this passage in the summer of 2010 with the intention of expressing its meaning in music and lyrics, I wondered how this declaration by the prophet Ezekiel to his people of God’s message of enduring presence and partnership could apply to us today. In that passage, Ezekiel told his people, Judeans (Jews) living in exile in Babylonia, that they could regain their if they replaced their “heart of stone” with a new “heart of flesh” that would restore and raise their spirits and bring them close to God once again.
I wrote this song as many American citizens were losing jobs, homes and financial security in the wake of a national crisis. Reducing hours of workers put many in dire straits, forcing many people to make difficult choices. The attitude and culture of financial institutions that made clients secondary to the profit motive led to this untenable situation.
In ancient Israel, it was the prophet who was called to deliver God’s message. The prophets did not choose to take on their crucial role in society, but they knew they had to speak out when they saw injustice and the need for change. The message of Ezekiel that resonated with me at such a trying time was that everyone – including organizations, institutions, and government - needed to preserve within themselves the “heart of flesh” that sees all people as created in the divine image. We need to recognize that no one is immune to finding themselves in a difficult situation which might require assistance and compassion from others. The prophet Micah articulated well the meaning of a “heart of flesh”: be fair, just, merciful and humble, and see all people as equals.
The prophetic voice of ancient times reminded the people to listen to the still, small voice inside of them that would open their hearts to their fellow human beings with genuine concern.
My song “Heart” attempts to renew Ezekiel’s message for the here and now. Seeing the best in each other will ensure that we will care about the well-being of all people as we care about our own well-being. That is the true meaning of community. May such a spirit prevail among us in our nation and throughout the world.