When I found your words, I devoured them. Your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart.
If you come back and I take you back, in my presence you shall stand; If you utter what is precious and not what is worthless, you shall be my mouth.
-Jeremiah 15: 16, 19—from lectionary readings on 01 August, 2018
How do we get from ‘not enough for everyone’ to an abundance beyond our imagining? What does it mean to go from scarcity and fear to generosity and care?
-A question that arose from the Religious Formation Conference and cited in theposting on the blog All This Life and Heaven Too, a blog written by Silvana Dallanegra, a member of my religious order, the Religious of the Sacred Heart.
I have had a chance to be away these last two weeks. In that time, I’ve seen people I love and don’t see often enough, I’ve done work, walked long a river, consumed a fair bit of coffee, made customs officials smile with a chance reunion in the Toronto airport, and read some good books. I’ve seen amazing maps hidden in quartzite and granite slabs while helping someone pick a countertop, helped a friend arrange and hang artwork, and seen the documentary about Mr. Rogers.
But when I read the combination of those two italicized pieces this morning, I thought of something else. I thought of the opportunities I had to sit with people. On couches watching movies; on porches, in pajamas, conversing over coffee; at lunch tables in a gymnasium; in cafes and restaurants; over Scrabble and Settlers of Catan.
I thought of the words of deep, wide, love that were shared in different ways…according to relationship, to age, to context. Words that sounded like laughter until weeping; that sounded like gentle teasing; words that were full of truth and challenge; words that sounded like an ache being shared; words that formed questions to get to know someone better; rhetorical questions posed in safety and meant simply to be heard; queries about whether someone wanted the last slice of pizza or mug of coffee or “Anybody else need a drink while I’m up?” And sometimes, words that were not spoken but equally present…in silence and sometimes given active dimension in deed.
These words, I devoured… Words of care, curiosity, Love, abiding presence, abiding welcome. Words from people who have been my company and stood strong in the winds of time and circumstance; and words from new kites who invite me to risk, to fly still further.
Words from people in whose presence I wish to stand; in whose company I do stand and I do act. And sometimes that happens to be face to face and I understand all over again the closing line of Les Miserables, the musical: To love another person is to see the face of God.
So long as I do something meaningful, valuable, precious, with that fullness of understanding…so long as each of us who has the good fortune of knowing something of that swirling company of Love that sings in so many unique lyrics, breezes, swells, and alleys of life does something to see it move on and touch another, then I can’t help but believe that we will bit by bit move from scarcity and fear to generosity and care.
God is infinite and wondrously beyond the scope of my imagining. And so is the good that Love can do when made manifest in the gloriously wild diversity of humanity.
To try and stop that would be heart less. Would be worth less.
We have a banquet of words set before us to devour, to share. Let the meal and the table we offer be a meal and a table of Love, not a meal and table of conditions and appendices of exceptional cases. There is enough. Enough room, enough love, Enough.
For me, I think the real question might be, Do I believe that? What would happen if I chose to act as though I believed that I was loved beyond measure and reason? If I chose to act as though there was room for another…perspective, thought, way of understanding…need that is greater than my own…And that there was enough. And that this truth of room, of welcome, of infinite love, was a truth for Us All?
What that is worthless has that as its foundation?
Let us eat well of love’s rich and varied vocabulary and make of that meal something generative, something beautiful, something as expansive as has yet to be imagined.