I love the opening line of today’s passage from Romans: “Let love be genuine. . .
Let love be genuine. Love, it seems, is naturally genuine. It doesn’t really come any other way. Coiled inside us, it is ready to dance out and make connections whenever we allow it. Unless there are barriers, it will simply do this. Lots of things bend it and twist it on its journey from our hearts into the world, however. The greatest blockage is caused by fear. To love genuinely we must remove the barrier of fear.
There are lots of fear-causing motives these days. The usual ones — not wanting to look stupid, not wanting to risk our family’s welfare, not wanting to put ourselves in danger, etc. — are bigger now that Covid 19 makes every contact a possible threat. And there are other new ones — the looming economic crisis, worries about schooling children, worries about access to necessary resources, the isolation that illness brings in this time of pandemic. How do we put all these to rest so that love can spring out of us naturally?
That’s a good question for each of us to contemplate. We each have our own ways of derailing fear.
For me the answer is love, God’s love. I have learned not to trust the sense of reality given to me by my mind. From my mind’s perspective there are always cause and effect relationships that have nothing to do with the movement of the Holy Spirit. Things are grim; there is no possible hope for the human race; we are doomed to war, famine, and a climate change that cannot help but lead to extinction not just of many of the earth’s creatures but of ourselves as well.
My heart, on the other hand, arcs toward rest in God. Sitting here in the uncomfortable heat that has plagued Colorado in recent years, in the midst of the smoke of not one but several uncontained forest fires, isolated by a pandemic that is being exacerbated by people putting their own wishes before others’ needs, there is a small place in my heart which rests in a peace that — truly — is beyond understanding.
That does not mean I have a Pollyanna-esque belief that everything will turn out all right, meaning nothing will change and all will magically get better anyhow. No, I fear that the pandemic is just the threshold of major, chaotic changes.
But it’s not the End Times, either. We can’t expect a white horse ridden by Christ waving a sword to emerge from the murk and sweep us up into a blissful blue heaven. This grim reality we have caused is something we will need to deal with over the long haul.
No, rather my heart tells me that Christ is right here beside me, in companionable solidarity. Whatever happens to me as an individual, to my faith community, to my country, Christ is right here. Love accompanies me. Love accompanies me, and for that reason my hands can be busy in the activity of love. Christ pours through me right along with genuine love. In fact, perhaps they are one and the same.
Image: Remain in My Love, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57421 [retrieved August 29, 2020]. Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/14056717468/.
Laurie Gudim is a spiritual director, artist and writer living in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and her sister. For more about her and her art, go HERE. For a little about her faith community, go HERE.