Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Truly Good News

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

The truly good news is that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pains and participates in the fullness of the human struggle.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, You Are Beloved, p. 105

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 2, 2021

Love With Skin On

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

We are being shepherded beyond our fears and needs to becoming our actual selves. This sucks and hurts some days, and I frequently do not want it or agree to it. But it persists, like water wearing through a boulder in the river. Hope springs from realizing we are loved, can love, and are love with skin on. Then we are unstoppable.

— Anne Lamott, Dusk Night Dawn, p. 190-191

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 30, 2021

Love Out of Proportion

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

Trust me on this: We are loved out of all sense of proportion. Yikes and hallelujah. Love reveals the beauty of sketchy people like us to ourselves. Love holds up the sacred mirror. Love builds rickety greenhouses for our wilder seeds to grow. Love can be reckless (Jesus is good at this), or meek as my dog, or carry a briefcase. Love is the old man in the park teaching little kids to play the violin: much time spent tuning, the children hearing their way into the key he is playing. My parents heard the key as success, security, moving expeditiously, and living as expected. But love lumbers like an elephant, it naps on top of your chest like a cat. It gooses you, snickers, smooths your hair. Love is being with a person wherever they are, however they are acting. Ugh. (A lot of things seem to come more easily to God.)

— Anne Lamott, Dusk Night Dawn, p. 190

Photo: Above Gundersweiler, Germany, April 22, 2000

God With Us

Friday, March 26th, 2021

Again and again you see how Jesus opts for what is small, hidden, and poor, and accordingly declines to wield influence. His many miracles always serve to express his profound compassion with suffering humanity; never are they attempts to call attention to himself. As a rule, he even forbids those he has cured to talk to others about it. And as Jesus’ life continues to unfold, he becomes increasingly aware that he has been called to fulfill his vocation in suffering and death. In all of this, it becomes plain to us that God has willed to show his love for the world by descending more and more deeply into human frailty.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, You Are Beloved, p. 93

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 26, 2021

Be Sure of This.

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

Be sure of at least one thing in this moment — that you are loved and worthy of love. Hold tightly to what you know to be real and true and good about who you are. Be sure of yourself.

KEEP MOVING.

— Maggie Smith, Keep Moving, p. 47

Photo: Keukenhof, Holland, April 21, 2004.

Again and Again

Friday, March 19th, 2021

This morning I meditated on God’s eagerness to forgive me, revealed in these words: “As far as the East is from the West, so far does God remove my sin” (Psalm 103:12). In the midst of all my distractions, I was touched by God’s desire to forgive me again and again. If I return to God with a repentant heart after I have sinned, God is always there to embrace me and let me start afresh. “The Lord is full of compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.”

It is hard for me to forgive someone who has really offended me, especially when it happens more than once. I begin to doubt the sincerity of the one who asks forgiveness for a second, third, or fourth time. But God does not keep count. God just waits for our return, without resentment or desire for revenge. God wants us home. “The love of the Lord is everlasting.”

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, You Are Beloved, p. 87

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 19, 2021

Love and Suffering

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

In the practical order of life, if we have never loved deeply or suffered deeply, we are unable to understand spiritual things at any depth. Any healthy and “true” religion is teaching you how to deal with suffering and how to deal with love. And if you allow this process with sincerity, you will soon recognize that it is actually love and suffering that are dealing with you. Like nothing else can! Even God has to use love and suffering to teach you all the lessons that really matter. They are his primary tools for human transformation.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 207

Photo: Dunluce Castle, Ireland, July 2001

Is the Table Big Enough?

Monday, March 8th, 2021

I wonder if you believe the table really is big enough for you, for those you love, for those you find difficult to love, for those who have little love for you. Because ultimately if you do, you have a decision to make: You’re either going to be a builder — or you’re not. You’re either going to deny yourself and take up the costly cross of sacrifice and keep seeking to come humbly, or you’re going to defiantly barricade yourself within your rightness and your righteousness and wait for the check to come. You’re either going to try to live as a selfless servant or look to die a spiteful martyr. I still do believe in the bigger table, but it’s more difficult than ever to keep that faith, probably because the resistance to it is so great. We have to be the resistance to that resistance. In the face of a loud hatred, we need to be a louder, more loving response. We have to become activists of goodness.

— John Pavlovitz, A Bigger Table, p. 173

Photo: Glendalough, Ireland, July 2001

Outdoing Sin With Love

Friday, March 5th, 2021

The church was meant to be an alternative society in the grip of an altogether different story line. Restorative justice is used in new Zealand as the primary juvenile justice model, and the Catholic bishops of New Zealand have put out very good statements on it. We see this alternative model of justice acted out in scripture — famously in Jesus’s story of the Return of the Prodigal (Luke 15:11ff.), but almost always in the prophets (if we can first endure their tirades). God’s justice makes things right at their very core, and divine love does not achieve its ends by mere punishment or retribution.

Consider Habbakuk, whose short book develops with vivid messages of judgment only to pivot at the very end to his “Great Nevertheless!” For three chapters, Habbakuk reams out the Jewish people, then at the close has God say in effect, “But I will love you even more until you come back to me!” We see the same in Ezekiel’s story of the dry bones (Chapter 16) and in Jeremiah’s key notion of the “new covenant” (Chapter 31:31ff.). God always outdoes the Israelites’ sin by loving them even more! This is God’s restorative justice.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 184

Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003

God Longs to Bring Me Home

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life — pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures — and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.

Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And, finally, the question is not “How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?” God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.

— Henri Nouwen, You Are Beloved, p. 16, quoting from The Return of the Prodigal Son

Photo: Lake Geneva, Switzerland, November 2000