Nathaniel is certainly an arrogant fellow, isn’t he? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” he asks. Well, as we now know, Messiah can.
Just last Sunday I listened to Presiding Bishop Curry’s Word to the Church in response to the violence at the Nation’s Capitol. We must be people of love, he told us. What does that mean for me, here and now, I wondered. How do I act in love?
I decided to spend the next week visual-journaling, using love as the subject of my images. This might be a way to learn what the Soul might be saying to me about love. Journaling through drawing always informs me in a way much more profound than words.
On Day 1 the image that emerged under my pen was an ear. “Listening with the ear of the heart”, I thought. And I pondered how deep listening is a gift of love. To do it well you have let go of all your presuppositions. You have to be willing to imagine that good things can come out of any of those places you think of as worthless.
Next came an image of a starry vortex, and I thought how love draws us into the mysterious heart of the universe. Only by relationship can we go there.
The day after, Day 3, I found myself contemplating how love is like a tree — a huge, deeply-rooted, living, breathing presence.
Day 4 brought me the image of water being drawn from a well. Love is water. It is also the well. The I Ching says this about a well, that it is a thing that exists in all countries in the world. Each one dresses it up a little differently, but a well has the same function no matter where you find it.
On Day 5 I envisioned an image of planets in orbit around the sun, and Day 6 brought one particular planet to the forefront — all self-contained and resplendent in its thin envelope of air. Love is a force like gravity. It maintains us in relationship one with another. But we have to stick up for our own needs, for that which makes us healthy and well-balanced. We have to have good boundaries and hold one another accountable.
On Day 7 that ear appeared again. It was the heart’s best feature. A big muscle kept it in place, kept it poised and listening. We all have to learn not to make the mistake that Nathaniel made, closing things down because, after all, don’t we already know all there is to know about some people?
I will not be coerced, bullied, or pushed around. There are consequences for bad behavior. But, by and large, the only thing that really changes hearts is good listening. Good listening is love in action. At least . . .that’s true for me.