I couldn’t resist sharing this picture of an iconic sculpture. It’s not the only LOVE sculpture done by Robert Indiana so I imagine it may not be the only featured in response to the All You Need Is Love! photo challenge by Dutch Goes the Photo!
Monday was my first All Souls’ Day remembering my best beloved.
While I miss him dearly I am also grateful that for him all sickness and suffering is past.
John lived with metastatic prostate cancer for more than nine years and took time to consider a farewell. As I establish a new rhythm of living and return to blogging (at least that’s my intent!), I thought I’d share his final word.
‘Biography’ by Shel Silverstein (from Every Thing On It, 2011): ‘First he was born / And then he was warned / And then he learned how to swim / And then he was married / And then he was buried / And that’s all that happened to him.’
“I do not have any ancestors of note. My descendants are presently in the midst of busy lives and, should they distinguish themselves, it would be presumptuous to claim credit for their success. I stand in death just as I did in life. To paraphrase the words of Sir Winston Churchill, I was a modest little man who had much to be modest about.
“Let it be said that I have had the companionship of an exceptional person over the last twenty-five years. She brought joy to my existence and there is no way that I can express my gratitude for her presence.
“I am also grateful to the countless bright, humane people who have shared my life’s journey. Thank you. May your lives be as rich as mine has been.
“Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576, physician, mathematician, astrologer, gambler, philosopher) summed my life accurately when he wrote, ‘Although happiness suggests a state quite contrary to my nature, I can truthfully say that I was privileged from time to time to attain and share a certain measure of felicity. If there is anything good at all in life with which we can adorn this comedy’s stage, I have not been cheated of such gifts.’ (from The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved by Mario Livio, 2006)
“As Lt. Colombo might say, ‘Just one more thing’. Since life is not quite as simple as Shel Silverstein has put it, there is one last detail that must be added. Human relationships are complicated and messy. To those I have offended or treated badly, I apologize.”– John M. Clark, “Final Word,” 2020
A poem for these times from Wendell Berry.
Whatever happens,– Wendell Berry, 1998 I, in This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected & New 1979-2013 (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2013), 183.
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
into the lasting world
and will not leave,
The note I wrote in the margin is “love one another.” It’s the new commandment Jesus gave after washing the disciple’s feet.
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”– John 13:34-35, NRSV
Today I’d circle the phrase “whatever happens.” The pandemic has made life seem surreal. A month ago my best beloved said, “We are living in a science fiction story.” He’s right. Whatever happens isn’t likely to be what we might have expected two months ago.
Are we learning to better love one another?
Are we discovering the lasting world?
Have we experienced love that will not leave?
Whatever happens, dear friends, may you know you are loved.
And may you make your way into the lasting world.
Note about the illustration: We have been doing art (or maybe just playing) with colored pencils, watercolor, soft pastels or acrylic paints every Tuesday and Thursday since social distancing and stay-at-home orders started. But not on our own! We’re following Facebook Live Instructional Art Videos by Paula Rotshafer. Look for The Creative Quarantine public group on Facebook or click here.
“You are the salt of the earth.”Matthew 5:13a, CEB
I’ve been thinking about salt.
It started with a call from a funeral director. He had a family who was not connected to any church but wanted “prayers said for Craig.” I met with the family the next day and led the memorial service a few days later.
Everyone who knew Craig knew that he always carried a bottle of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. When asked why he’d say, “Everything tastes better with Lawry’s salt on it.”
It’s one of those quirky things remembered when someone has died. Having never met Craig, I would have forgotten it except for two sermons I heard the following weekend.
A retired Catholic priest talked about throwing salt around. Be generous with it. Everywhere you go, fling it out into the world.
I’m still not sure about throwing salt at anyone. But I really like the image of indiscriminate extravagance. Spreading goodness and joy, love and laughter and kindness – anything that makes life a little easier or a bit more pleasant.
My pastor talked about being salt. Be seasoning. Add flavor wherever you are, wherever you go in the world.
The challenge: be salt even when it’s hard. Shake up a conversation when it turns negative. Speak up on behalf of one is marginalized or oppressed. Stand up for what is right no matter the cost.
May you be salt, dear friends.
May you share salt with indiscriminate extravagance.
May everything taste better because of you and your salty goodness.
“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”– Henri Frederic Amiel (Swiss Philosopher, 1821 – 1881)
Last week did not go according to plan. Not that we had any specific plans. But instead of staying home, we dropped everything to go be with family. Short story: Mom fell. Brain bleeds, broken cheek bone, and lots of facial bruising.
The good news: she’s doing really, really well.
It could have been otherwise.
Now that we’re home and getting back to our regular routine, I’ve been thinking about a Commissioning/Benediction I’ve used at the end of many Worship services. Based on a quote (above) by Henri Frederic Amiel, it goes like this:
Life is short
and we do not have much time
to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us.
So be swift to love,
Make haste to be kind,
And go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
~ ~ ~
It’s more than a flower picture, but since it is a flower I’m linking to Cee’s Flower of the Day Photo Challenge! Thank-you, Cee, for sharing beautiful flowers and encouraging the rest of us to do the same.
Love never ends. – 1 Corinthians 13:8a NRSV
I suspect, but am not certain, that every time I’ve read 1 Corinthians 13 at a wedding I’ve skipped from the “love never ends” of verse 8 to the “and now faith, hope and love abide” of verse 13.
At the same time I teach that we should wonder what a preacher is leaving out when omitting part of the text.
If you’re curious, here it is:
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. – 1 Corinthians 13:8-1 NRSV
Love – God’s love, the love we see most fully in the face of Jesus – Love makes all things complete. As we mature in love, we become more whole. As we grow in love’s ways, we more clearly reflect the One in whose image we are created.
Here’s the thing: we need one another to get there. Love does not flourish in isolation. Love thrives in relationship – with God, with friend/family/neighbor/stranger, with creation. We each know in part; we need each other to begin to know in whole.
In the simplicity and the complexity of living with one another on this planet we call home, may you know Love and be an expression of Love.
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 NRSV
Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. – 1 Corinthians 13:5b-8a NRSV
Love insists that every way be loving. A person acting with love – living love’s way – will not insist on his or her own way. Usually. Particularly when the other options available are expressions of love. But sometimes love means speaking up or speaking out or speaking against a way that is not loving.
Love does not believe all things. Especially if we are talking about believing everything you hear or everything you read. Real love believes the best about another, looks for the good, seeks out the inspiring. True love harbors doubts about second-hand stories and rumors that in any way disparage another; love grieves when such stories and rumors are accurate.
Even if we are talking about believing as giving our heart to and orienting our lives toward, then love still does not believe all things. Love believes – sets its heart on and orients its life toward – all things life giving.
When one is treated without love in the name of love – say, being beaten or belittled or isolated or controlled – love does not bear it or endure it or simply hope for better. Love leaves.
When you share life – in all its glorious messiness – with one who truly supports you and wants only the best for you, who would do anything to see you smile or hear you laugh, who can sit in the silence with you when there are no words and share your tears in the midst of the heart-wrenching, then love does indeed bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. Whether parent or partner or friend, that kind of love that never ends.
May you love and be loved in all ways life giving.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-5a NRSV
Yes, this is the beginning of a Biblical text used at many, many Christian weddings.
But it’s not just for two consenting adults who are freely making vows to mutually support and encourage and care for one another through the valleys and peaks of life.
This text is for everyone. (Paul probably borrowed it from his culture and adapted it for the church.)
Love is not a feeling. Love is an action. Love is how we treat one another.
We all live in relationship to other human beings every day of our lives. Friends. Family. Neighbors. Strangers. Colleagues. Coaches. Teammates. Employers. Employees. Customers. Caregivers. Care receivers. Teachers. Students. Fill in the blank: _____________ . People just like us – even when they seem as different as can be imagined.
We are all called to be patient and kind. Patient with ourselves; patient with others. Kind to ourselves; kind to others. That’s what love is. It’s what love does.
Sounds so simple. Yet can be so hard. Particularly in a culture that seems to admire and even celebrate hurry-up, get-it-done, look-out-for-oneself, take-advantage-of-everyone, what’s-in-it-for-me attitudes and actions.
Love is patient. Love is kind.
At the same time, none of us are called to be envious, boastful, arrogant or rude. Not envious about what another has or has accomplished. Not boastful of our own or a loved one’s accomplishments. Not arrogant about whatever or however we might think we are superior. Not rude – ever.
Love is patient. Love is kind.
May it be so in my life.
“If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal.
“If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing.
“If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever.”
– 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 CEB
Did you read the text above? Really read it?
The guy sitting next to me at church Saturday evening harumphed – an audible, derisive sort of scoff – at the truth of it. He was genuinely surprised to hear this sort of thing coming from the Bible.
It’s great imagery.
Say what I will but words without love are just noise. And it’s not just about the tone or the sincerity; it’s about being truly genuine and coming from a place of deep compassion for the persons – every single one of them, friend and foe alike – who will hear what I say.
Look into the future if that’s your thing but if you don’t see through eyes of love you might as well be blind.
If my generosity isn’t fueled by love, I’m not being generous. I’d add that if there strings attached, it’s neither generous nor a gift.
The apostle Paul – formerly known as Saul, now known as St. Paul – is writing to a church divided and is calling for unity. The body of Christ – the sum total of all the followers of Jesus – is ONE. It’s made of many parts, all equally good, all absolutely necessary, each with different gifts. To treat any individual as less than, to ignore or dismiss another, is simply not the way of Christ.
How we treat each other – within the church or not, Christian or not, matters.
It’s something to consider.
It’s Monday morning and, as is often the case, a snippet from Sunday worship lingers with me. This week it’s from the sermon. The Rev. David Sickelka emphatically said “God delights in YOU.”
For YHWH will take delight in you … as a newly married couple rejoice over each other, so will YHWH rejoice over you. – from Isaiah 62:4-5 The Inclusive Bible
You. Same as everyone else. Loved in all your particularity.
You. Beloved of God. Delighted in by God.
When you look in a mirror, do you see a beloved child of God?