mesa verde national park of southern colorado / march 2008 / bob traupman.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This blog is particularly addressed to my young readers.
Our society finds it quite acceptable for people to hop into one relationship after another or just satisfy their needs by”hooking up”.
How many times have you thought that this was the person of your dreams and been dumped by a rude text message — or done the dumping yourself?
How many marriages have ended when one spouse shows up in kitchen and announces, “I want a divorce!” No discussion. No attempt to work out problems. No mercy. No forgiveness. It’s over. Done.
And what happens is that we may add one unsuccessful relationship on top of another. As a result, our heart can become more and more wounded. And less and less trusting, less and less capable of loving . . . unless we somehow find a way to believe again, to hope again.
In my own life friends (of varying degrees of closeness) have cut off contact with me without any opportunity to try to understand what happened.
I certainly did get on those people’s nerves (in each case as a result of a flair-up of the internal pressure caused by my bipolar illness) but I am quite sure that if we would just sit down and talk things out and listen to one another we could in each case quite easily smooth things out and even bring the relationship to a deeper level.
In fact, I have not given up on any of those relationships — each one which is important to me; they represent significant parts of my life. So I hold them in my heart and am patient. I am a reconciler at heart. I take my cue from my elder Jesus who has a passion for reconciliation. I believe Jesus aches for every broken relationship.
I do not say that each of those rifts in my life didn’t hurt. Particular from friends of 38 years. Being rejected hurts a helluva lot. And it takes time to get over. Some of us may never try again.
So, let’s take a deeper look at the truth and the transforming power of St. Paul’s words in I Cor. 13 we’re reflecting on in this series “What is Love?”
LOVE . . .
. . is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never fails.
We just have to learn to love anyway. At least, that’s what St. Paul is getting at “Love does not brood over injuries.”
In the Art of Loving, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm’s classic book written in 1956, consider his statement that will blow most of us out of the water: “Love is not primarily a relationship to a specific person: it is an attitude, an orientation of character which determines the relatedness of a person to the world as a whole, not toward one “object” of love. If a person loves only one person and is indifferent to the rest of his fellow men, his love is not love but a symbiotic attachment (emphasis mine) or an enlarged egotism . . . If I truly love one person I love all persons, I love the world; I love life. If I can say to somebody else, “I love you,” I must be able to say”I love in you everybody. I love through you the world, I love in you also myself” — p. 39.)
This is, of course, the heart of Jesus’ message, but many, if not most of us who say we’re his followers still don’t get it.
But let us return to the theme of our brokenness. As tech opportunities for “communication” proliferate the less we communicate. We communicate more and more on a superficial level. You can’t really know someone through texting or on Facebook or in an email. A person can present a false persona. The only real way to communicate with someone is to be in their presence using all our senses.
We need to learn, once again how to come to true intimacy — the coming together of two or more persons who have the courage open themselves to the transformative power of love.
If you are one who seeks that, I’m with you. That’s what all my writing is about.
The final blog of this series will turn this subject around to consider “The Transformative Power of Love.” Then we will be on to preparing for Lent.
Good and gracious God,
we ask you to heal the hearts that are broken.
Help us to see even in the midst of our brokenness the depth of Your Love for us.
And may we see Your brokenness when we reject Your love.
We may feel we cannot take the risk to open our hearts once more.
Give us the courage and strength to stop destructive patterns that lead only to more pain.
Give us hope, Lord.
Instead of seeking to find our true love,
let us simply become persons who love —
. . . whomever we’re with,
. . . to grow in our capacity to love that we can hold the whole world in our embrace
as You do at every moment,
in every time and place.
To You, God of our understanding,
we give You praise, now and forever.
Now before you go, look at that tree weathering the mountaintop at 8000 feet. It has been jilted by the weather. But it still stands nobly and proudly — broken, gnarled and twisted — but a fine lesson to us of the meaning of life.
And here is the entire text of St. Paul’s Ode to Love (I Cor. 13) once again. Savor each line and see how you measure up. . . .
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous. Love is not pompous, it is not inflated,it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, does not brood over injury,it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never fails.So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13