Today at church we had a lesson about teaching and we were asked to draw the first thing that we thought of. The logical picture was a stick figure, a blackboard, desks, and students. I stink at drawing. My brother who is a very good artist would say that I just have not taken the time to practice. I haven’t and I stink. So I drew two hearts – one inside of the other. I drew hearts because real teaching requires love. Two hearts because it takes two people to learn: each with love enough to listen. Without love you miss communication altogether.
The Greeks called is Agapé. Christians call it Charity. It is the ultimate love of God and one’s neighbor. It is lacking and we need it now more than ever. Otherwise, we are going to keep talking at each other and we are going to keep missing each other. We are not listening. We are not communicating. We are not learning.
The love that I am referring to is hard. Really hard. It is so slippery in the face of all that we experience. This love is what it takes to forgive cruelty and hate. This love is what it takes to dispel fear. This love transcends language. This love is the most powerful force in the universe.
In our day to day interactions with the people around us, in our conversations with family and friends and strangers, we need people who listen, who share real experiences, and who assume the best of each other. We need people who have this ability to love.
I met a man during my time in the psych ward. He originated from a different background and Black English was his native tongue. It is not mine, and I had difficulty understanding him. Nevertheless, we spend hours talking about life, about defeat, and about God. All I could do was listen. He taught me about poverty and prison. He taught me about pride and humility. He taught me about redemption and about paying attention to the signals God is sending. This man knew things I could not know because he has lived a life I have not lived. I had to listen carefully to be able to understand: not to judge, or to respond, or to correct. Just to understand. And in this process, I came to love him.
It is easy to label people, put them in boxes, and ignore them. It is harder to love them. But if we allow that love into our lives it will change us for the better.
Light the Darkness,