Here’s one more reflection in this series “What is Love?
Many young folks in our society have not experienced the love that transforms, even from their own parents or their spouses. As a consequence, and very sadly, so many do not know how to love in a way that transforms because so many of us are more interested in getting love than giving it. So, let’s think about that for a moment.
Who are the people in your life who were able to recognize the YOU inside you? Who knew who you were behind the mask you present to the world each day?
Who are the people who recognized your gifts and called them forth from deep within you? Who drew forth the goodness in you when perhaps all you were presenting to the world was not very good at all?
That’s love that transforms! That heals. That gets us going again. That moves us down the road a bit.
At this moment I will name one such man who has had an enormous influence on my life. He is Father Eugene Walsh. We used to call him Gino. He was the rector of my seminary in the year I was preparing for ordination. I was fortunate to get on his short list to be my spiritual director. He had a way of listening deeply below the level of my words.
I remember one night in his study. We were sitting across from each other in two easy chairs. I was always intrigued that the wall behind him was bright orange with some sort of large modern painting on it.
Of a sudden, he got up from his chair and hugged me and whispered in my ear one word: “Bob” His voice found me some place deep within and called me forth.
I can still hear him saying that right now. At that moment, his deep, resonating love transformed me. Affirmed me, confirmed me. (I’ll start writing very soon about my priesthood and my bipolar journey and I will tell the story of this wonderful man and the many others who influenced and shaped my life over the years; there are many and I am grateful to each and every one.)
More than any other person than Jesus, I have tried to be like him. He was so human. He taught me how to be a human being, above all. A simple, decent, human being. And to be human, most of all, is to be capable of loving and receiving love. And that’s what I’ve always taught: Sin is the refusal of love, the refusal to love, as well as the refusal to grow and the refusal to give thanks.
So ask yourself: who are the persons who really knew who you were deep within, accepted you and called you forth to be the best person you could be?
Why don’t you choose that as the point of your reflection through the day — while you’re driving, sitting on the john, doing the dishes. Give thanks for them. And maybe give them a call. Not an email but a phone call, or better yet, a letter.
And finally, I want to honor the two-love birds in the picture above. They are John and Betsy Walders of Sebastian, Florida. They’ve been married sixty two years this February and are as much in love as the day they met as teens. In their eighties they were serendipitying around the country, quite oblivious to the fact that they weren’t teenagers anymore! The joy and memory of all those years sustains Betsy as she witnesses her beloved withdraw into Alzheimers.
Happy 62nd Valentine’s Day, John and Betsy!
Good and gracious God,
You are the One most of all who has loved me into wholeness,
who is calling me forth to be the best person I can be,
calling me not so much to want to be loved as to love.
I thank you for sending people in my life who even for a brief moment
have touched me deep within and helped to transform me.
Help me always to be a person who is capable of transforming love.
To You be all glory and honor and praise, now and forever. Amen!
And before you go, Joan Baez wrote a poignant love song that shows her love and surrender of that love ~ and Betsy’s as she lets go of her beloved John. (Ask yourself if you have that grace!) Listen to Joan’s beautiful Forever Young. Be sure to enter full Screen.