In our readings, and in our lives, we come back again and again to familiar stories, familiar themes, readings, passages, hymns, songs, familiar things to practice. The stories, ideas, themes, reflections are the same and yet different, sometimes very different. Maybe it’s the story told in a new way. Maybe it’s that we are different.
This week, we reflect, yet again on the love of Grace that nourishes us and the ways in which we are meant to spread and share that love in our own small ways and in our own small lives. It’s a simple message and yet none of it is easy. First, God loves us. Even that can be hard at times as we wrestle with what God means and does God really love us and if so…why and why? And that wrestling and that questioning is okay. Truly. It’s okay. Then, second, our work is to spread and share our smaller version of that love and we know that that can be hard. Even with those we love, it can be hard to enfold and hold and unite and connect…and Love.
There is God, there are other people, neighbor, family, brother, sister, us. God and us and everything in between and it is intricately connected. God on one end, us on the other and our work is to enfold and hold the whole work of creation, creation as love, together. A web of love. Maybe God is the center and we are God’s gems at each holding point of the web. We hold and shine and reflect and help to shine up and strengthen those around us who then hold up their part of the web even brighter and better. And so it goes. All of it interconnected and entwined.
We, each of us, is called to do our work. Whatever we call it: work, job, mission, call, creativity…whatever we call it, and whatever “it” is, if we do it with love, we are on the “right” path. It may not be perfect, but it’s “right”. It’s Good. The world needs more Love (the familiar quote these days: love needs to stop whispering) and we are to do just that one thing. Love. Love in whatever we are doing when we are doing it.
We spend a lot of time judging, questioning, worrying over. Ourselves and then others. Others and then ourselves. It’s another tangled web…or maybe that one is a net. We’ve all been there. We’re quietly, or loudly, focused on our “thing”, our charity, our work, our creative endeavors, call, practice, even our break, and we are or feel judged that it’s the wrong thing. Not important enough. That we should be doing something better or doing something more worthy. We slow down. We stop. We get stuck. Worried. Then scared…
But love. Love is the key. Love of the work, charity, focus, practice, break time. When love, real love, is the focal point then it’s all good because it’s spreading love. Maybe slowly. Maybe even slower. But faith is trusting that Goodness is growing, even when we can’t see it. Like the spider’s web of the Children’s Time. If we don’t pause to look, we might miss it, or get caught up in it instead of seeing it as a gift (a blessing). Perspective is funny.
The questioning, the worry, the fear, the judging…is that love? Or separation? Love is connection, that’s one way we know we’re on the right path. Love is shining up and putting it (and others) back into the web, not trying to dislodge and toss aside things we don’t like or distrust. We are each called to do different things, in different ways. We are called and born with special gifts of Grace. Love is doing and being with with kindness and truth and courage. Courage. Courage comes from the heart to connect and glue, to keep the web together. When we love with courage, we are careful not to disCourage others, and ourselves. We build community by bringing our differences together. By enCouraging one another on the web, starting with those closest to us.
How do we give love? By doing. Doing what we are called to do with love. Maybe we’re just beginning, maybe we’re re-beginning, maybe we unsure where to begin, maybe we’ve been working quietly for years. Choose. Begin. Re-begin. Start small and learn to listen well. To yourself. To your gift. To one another. Remember why you love what you love and focus there.
Notice why others love what they love. Listen and learn to encourage not discourage. To come together from the heart space of grace. Encouraging is a connecting. Discouraging is a separation from love. A separation from grace. Usually we need only ask. If we ask people their why’s, we better understand one another. It might make sense and be really lovely, even if we don’t fully agree or fully understand. Lovely. Another word full of Love. Lovely.
Maybe we learn to love what we have to offer more. Maybe we learn to love something new or in a new way. Maybe we learn to love what our neighbors love. Maybe we learn that we overlap more than we thought we did. Love.
We are loved by Grace. We are asked to love. Go and do likewise. Love thy neighbor. Love thy neighbor asks us not what kind of neighbors do we have and are they deserving of love. But what kind of neighbor are we and are we giving love, even and especially when it’s hard. Go and do likewise is the work that comes from us, not to us. What comes to us is a gift. What we give and spread is our work. Our work of love. Go and do likewise. Keep going and also…
Love is simple, but not easy.
We get lost. We get worried. We get confused. We get overwhelmed and pulled at and dragged down. Love and our ability to love and spread love is nourished by our personal practices. Reflection. Contemplation. Meditation. Study. Quiet. Stillness. Walks. Prayer. Nature. Gardens. Company. Solitude. Church. Dinner.
Don’t underestimate the power of pausing with Grace to be nourished. To allow all forms of prayer to sustain and support us. Remember that Jesus didn’t just work. Jesus rested. Jesus stepped away to pray and be still…the personal pause with Grace.
Don’t underestimate small acts. Even in our pauses, there might be a place for small acts of love. Sometimes the smallest act has the power to reach where it is most needed and most appreciated to where it can ripple the most into more small acts of kindness and love. Often, we may never even know the ripples. We can only trust. Soup to a friend. A card sent. A piece of trash picked up. A daffodil planted. A patience moment. A stop to talk. …
The great thing about the love for us of Grace is that we can pick up and begin again and begin anew. Maybe this is why we keep coming back to the stories, similar stories, readings, passages, echoes, similar themes, similar struggles, over and over and over again. Maybe the repetition is a reminder that we too have more chances. God loves us and when we pause or fail or stop or give up…we can begin anew. We can begin anew…
Being loved. And being love.