I have friends who are Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics, Jews, Baptists and Sikhs. Others are atheists or agnostics. Still others hate labels of any kind. We are multicolored, multi-talented, multicultural, gay and straight, from all hues
of the political spectrum. I try to understand their journeys and cultivate mutual respect.
Most of us agree that I Corinthians 13 is a Himalayan peak of world literature. Written by the Apostle Paul 2,000 years ago, it is a lofty call to love.
Thankfully, it is not some ethereal standard impossible to emulate. What we find here is deeply practical, a chance for ALL human beings to choose this character trait in our daily lives.
Throughout February – a month long associated with love – I’ve invited friends to reflect on this sublime passage. Please take the time to hear them. Together we’ll get a view from this Everest of Love.
There’s a Benedictine tradition called Lectio Divina. It’s a way of reading and meditating on scripture as living words, not just objects of scholarly study. It requires deep listening and can be applied to the sacred writings of any tradition. Consider Paul’s words again. No matter how familiar they are, let them burrow into your spirit.
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 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.
To show how just a few words of this poetry can challenge us, I choose “Love is patient…”
I’m sure I’m the only one who struggles with patience. 🙂 Perhaps that’s why God deemed me (un)worthy of fathering a special needs son.
Every day, I must draw on subterranean founts of forbearance. Doing so, I now consider Kristoffer my resident guru. He unwittingly teaches me patience on a daily basis…
- His speech can be hard to decipher. I have to listen carefully, and if I need to hear him again, I gently ask for rephrasing.
- He perceives reality from a unique vantage point. It takes painstaking effort to enter into his world.
- He has the autistic trait of repeating his words and actions. I try to accept each version with new interest, or gently redirect him.
- Though he masters some activities quickly, there are basic skills that take him forever.
- He moves slowly, oh so slowly…
Patience! Just one aspect of Paul’s lofty call to love, worthy of a lifetime’s cultivation.
Please check back here and see how others are climbing this Everest of Love in their own lives.
Carpe diem, friends!