A recent reading at a Sunday worship service focused on the simple principle: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” You don’t have to be a churchgoer or believer to learn this principle. Some call it the golden rule – “Do unto others…”. A friend had a similar saying: “What goes around, comes around.” My brother John died recently. Reflecting on John’s life and legacy has broadened my perspective on the golden rule and how love grows.
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We are sitting on a large piece of driftwood nestled into the sand at San Josef Bay near the northernmost tip of land on Vancouver Island. Clouds of rain have come and gone most of the day until a small, postage-stamp sized piece of blue sky opens up. An osprey seizes the moment to rise into the air and begin its fishing expedition along the Bay. Its flight is a joyous sight. Soaring with each breeze it stops to hover by rapidly flapping its broad white wings. Suddenly it shape shifts into a darted missile and dives down into the churning sea and emerges scant seconds later with a wriggling piece of silver clenched in its talons. And then disappears.
This post is a hard one to write. I don’t want to write. I really don’t want to do anything. I signed off from Critical Conversations 3 weeks ago reluctantly. I have posted weekly ever since I began three years ago. In my quiet time before that decision, a couple of things were occurring. I was reminded regularly that making space for silence and listening for the voice of the Spirit or Divine Love made my life simpler.
Joseph Campbell wrote about the “Heroes Journey.” In it, life is referenced as a journey wherein we may have very different heroes to propel us forward. When I think of heroes, three people come to mind. I’ll tell you about them because they shaped my life’s work for social justice, as well as guiding my retirement years.
Two recent experiences reminded me of the commonly cited Twelve Step saying: “Resentments kill.” This post will explore those two experiences and connect them to Twelve Step wisdom about resentments.
I have had limited interaction with transgender people. I became more aware when personal pronouns became more present in communications. Over the past couple of years, I have come to know people who have changed their gender. I have heard maternity ward nurses say they could tell at birth that a baby’s given gender and intended gender were not aligned. Friends who are parents have shared of having their teen transform grief and self-destructive behavior into joy and relief when their gender affirmation was complete.
How does one measure a life in ways other than a year? The annual journey of the earth around the sun is the accepted standard way of counting out time. But along the way, there are many events that colour our vision backwards into the passages of time. And a lot of living and loving. And now nearing 75, birthdays come and go with such increasing regularity that I seem to have lost touch. Still, it is so good to celebrate life and reminisce now and then.
I just completed a 3-month sabbatical program–from January 9 to April 3rd in Rome Italy. I am a retired priest so a sabbatical is a little unusual. I was excited to return to Rome which I had visited before. The sabbatical combined theological courses offered each week -Monday through Friday and tours to various museums, churches and other sites in and around Rome. On weekends, I and the other participants traveled to different parts of Italy and Europe. On two weekends, I was able to go to Florence and Venice – two of the cities I most love in Italy.
Love as powerful as a river’s current flows through my life. I love. I am loved. I am in love. But a simple paean to love falls short of my very real experience of love as I age, especially as two love-related challenges seem to be sprouting like weeds in my garden of well-being.
A recent weekend was rich in experiences that reminded me of another element of love – courage. Last week’s post reflected on the many ways that we can look back at a person’s life when they die and see all the love that was present. I shared about the life of Rudi Rudran and all the good that came from his life of service. In his story and for many others, the daily acts of loving require courage fueled by faith of some kind.