DEW DROPS and LOVE. My faith test comes into focus.
DEW DROPS and LOVE. My faith test comes into focus.
Three weeks ago, I set out to see if trying to be intentionally loving without “being on the hunt” for opportunities would make a concrete difference – “concrete difference” being the key words.
Here is where the journey has led me so far…
Week 1 – The Lead Up Week to the Faith Test: I never really explained why I felt the need to do this in the first place. It’s simple really. I was in the midst of a spate of funerals – 5 to be conducted in a two week period. Four of them connected directly to the community I serve. There was nothing out of the ordinary about any of them. Each was beautiful in its own way. It’s that collectively they gave me pause to think about the stuff of life in general.
So generally speaking then, it’s normal for a variety of thoughts and feelings surface at times like this for all families. Some are comforting. Some are more difficult. What is common to all funeral experiences I have shared with families throughout my 16 years in ministry (ordained and student) is that people put effort into responding to what is in front of them with love, even as it takes time to figure out how to do that. In some cases people make real decisions to “do” certain things. In others, they make real decisions to “not do” certain things “any longer”. But in all cases, the inspiration to make those decisions comes from “outside” them. They find a way to go with the flow in a way that is not haphazard, so to speak.
Week 2 – I Get Started and I Don’t Find What I Was Expecting: I find a sense of liberation in the going with the flow. But I can’t say that I am really aware of any concrete differences – except in one instance where I can actually see a moment of decision crystallize in the other person. The irony I find is that in trying to connect with other people, I discover that I am connecting with myself first – It is myself, warts and all, that I am confronted with. And then I am confronted with the vast landscape of loneliness and need for love out there. For it to lead to a hopeful place, I can’t sit with these thoughts too long. I must stay with them only until I hit the tipping point, where my ability to look beyond myself kicks in.
Week 3 – Things are Evening Out. As I look back now, I think that one of the things that was really weighing on me at the beginning was the challenge of really going with the flow — of finding the balance between being in control too much and fooling yourself as a form of denial. I have discovered in this past week that sitting in that space is a mixed bag because life is, of course, not black and white. So it isn’t comfortable for long. The flip side is that it doesn’t have to stay uncomfortable for long either.
It’s entirely reasonable, necessary even, to understand that life will go back and forth. Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you”. I don’t think he meant this to say that there is no hope. I think he meant that we should never delude ourselves into complacency because when we do this, we abdicate our humanity.
So Where Am I now?
In this third week, I would love to tell you a heartwarming story. But I can’t. That’s not because I didn’t experience any beauty. In fact I am full of memory of experiencing beauty. I just haven’t come to a place where I am recording the details. And that’s because of the space I am in now, conscious of letting go of one story to make room for the next.
I have made mistakes in my past. I will continue to make them. The poor we will always have with us. The human challenge will always remain in me and in others. I am changing. I trust that others are too.
To be continued…
The Gift of Love
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
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Carleton Memorial United Church
Carleton Memorial United Church is a friendly and affirming Christian community welcoming to all. We support and encourage everyone to participate in all aspects of the life and work of our congregation: asking questions, exploring faith, and cultivating gifts. Our church has a place for everyone, regardless of their backgrounds, beliefs, or circumstances.