We’ve been talking about St. Paul’s Ode to Love (1 Corinthians 13) ~ the awesome love that transforms.
But many of us don’t know how to love in a way that transforms because we’re more interested in getting love than giving it.
So, let’s think about that for a moment.
Many young folks in our society have not experienced the love that transforms, even from their own parents or their spouses. Very often, their relationships center on their own needs, even when they’re “giving” to their significant other.
But in order to love in a transforming way, we have to love in a way that frees us.
So I ask you . . . .
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-the-deep-within-you?
Who drew forth the goodness they-saw-in-you when what you were presenting to the world you thought wasn’t 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’d like to 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 the year I was preparing for ordination. He was a Father-figure for me and a mentor; and I also learned most of what I know about the sacred liturgy from him.
I had the good fortunate to get on his short list to have him as 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 a large abstract painting on it. I was struggling that night about whether I would go on to be ordained a priest.
Of a sudden, he sprung from his chair, hugged me and whispered in my ear my name ~ Bob. And I heard it resonate for the longest time. His voice found me ~ some place deep within and called me forth.
I can still hear him calling me ~ right now. At that moment, his deep, resonating love ~ transformed me. Affirmed me, confirmed me.
More than any other person, there is Jesus; I have tried to be like him. He was so human. He has ~ he is teaching 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. The same was true of Father Walsh.
So ask yourself: Who are the people who really knew who you were on the inside, accepted you as you are ~ the good and the bad ~ and called you forth to be the best person you could be?
Why don’t you reflect on this through the day ~ while you’re driving, sitting on the john or doing the dishes. Give thanks for them. And maybe give them a call. Not an email ~ a phone call.
And finally, I want to honor the two-love birds in the picture above. They are John and Betsy Walders of Sebastian, Florida. They will be married sixty-six years next week (February 19, 2015) and are as much in love as the day they met as teens. (Take note that there both still wearing denim.) In their early eighties they went on a 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 Alzheimer’s. They’re both in their nineties.
Asked if they ever considered a divorce, she thought a moment and said, “Divorce, no, murder, yes!”
I love them dearly and miss visiting, but Betsy and I talk and have many a laugh on the phone every couple of weeks.
Dear Friends, see if you can make this prayer your own . . . .
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 into my life who, even for a brief moment,
have touched me deep within and helped to transform me into a more deeply loving person.
Help me always to be a person who is capable of transforming love.
And now, before you go, here’s Joan Baez’ Forever Young Click here. Turn up your speakers. Be sure to enter full screen; it’s a song I’ve always enjoyed!