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If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.~1 Corinthians 13:3-7, The Message Bible
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Last week, I examined the advise given by the Apostle Paul to the early Christians to cloak themselves in garments of love, and to never be without them.
In today’s passage, Paul says to be without love we are spiritually bankrupt. We can give all that we have, we can be martyred, and yet there is no place for us to go.
Paul then makes us a list:
- Love never..
- Love doesn’t…
- Love does…
- Love always…
In these times of uncertainty, as we continue to adjust to new routines and to a new reality, I think this list is helpful in planting the seeds of new conversations of who we want to be and how we want to live. In the coming weeks, I’m going to spend some time spiritually examining this list, and using it as a way of “planting the seeds of Love” as spiritual practice and personal growth in these times of solitude and quarantine.
Love never gives up!
I’ve heard some despair this week:
“I don’t know if I can live in isolation.”
“This will never end.”
“I’ll never see my friends again.”
“I can’t be in this house anymore, but there’s nowhere to go.”
Whether we live with people or not, we want out of our houses. We didn’t choose these monastic or hermetical lifestyles, but nevertheless, they have been imposed upon us. I’ve talked with many people this past week, and we are feeling the stress of this imposition and disruption in our psyches and our hearts.
Sometimes we fill our lives with so much busyness and activities, we don’t have to be still and take stock of who we are and how we live. These days, we don’t have that luxury. We are literally stuck at home with ourselves and our immediate families. It can feel daunting, but I believe there are simple ways we can begin to take stock in order to lighten the despair, so that we don’t give up on ourselves and one another.
One way to begin navigating through the despair is to simply make lists. I do this for myself quite frequently, when I’m stuck in a feeling, or when I feel uninspired. I call this the “Lists of 20’s.” Creating the lists helps helps me move my mind from an anxious state to a more accepting, gentle state. I hope this exercise will help if you or someone you know might be feeling some despair right now.
Exercise: Lists of 20’s
Like Paul I make lists. When I’m in a funk, or need some inspiration, I usually starting with a simple question that allows me to list 20 answers. I’m sharing some of those questions below and hope this exercise will be useful to you or anyone you know who may feel some despair because of what’s happening in the world.
- Who are the 20 most people in your inner circle right now? Of those 20, who reaches out to you? And of the 20 people – who really needs you? (You may wish to followup this list with a simple gratitude practice. Send an email or a card, letting people know how much you appreciate them.)
- What are 20 forms of contact you have right now with people? (Don’t forget to include such things as books, podcasts, and other contacts you have, even if you don’t know the people personally.)
- What are 20 things you are passionate about right now? (Can you whittle down this list and choose 2 or 3 of these things to focus on during the quarantine?)
- “Humor is the best medicine” they say. Are you finding levity somewhere?How often are you allowing yourself to laugh everyday? Do you need more laughter in your life? Where are you 20 places you finding lightness and humor?
We’re all in this together!
God’s love is vast, and God has not given up on us. In this spirit, we can’t give up on ourselves and others. The lists of questions I share above are ones I’ve made and worked with the past few weeks. May they help you illumine your light within as well. I share this exercise and strategy with you because we are ALL in this together. And we will make it through these times – together.
Prayer is also a part of my navigational tools. If you need prayers, please feel free to let me know. I have many ways I’m incorporating prayer into my life these days – especially through art and Holy Grapes solo worship experiences.
Maybe there are similar questions, lists, and strategies you’ve used to move from despair to peace of mind these past few weeks. I’d be happy to know. Please feel free to share in the comments or drop me a line.
Much peace and many blessings, to you and yours, fellow traveler.
~~Friends, do not let yourselves become too isolated during this time. Reach out and continue to connect as much as you can. Fear, anxiety and isolation can take it’s toll. Stay strong. Stay connected. Need prayers – drop me a line.~~
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