NaPoWriMo – Day 11

 

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The Secret Meaning of Flowers

You offered to landscape
My yard—a new yard
A new house
Not yet a home
You chose yellow acacia
For friendship, you said
Only later did I discover
Its true meaning:
Secret love

Our first date
Led straight to my bed
You never left!
You added red
chrysanthemums
For love
But
I was not ready
To be loved

Over time, white snowdrops
And candytuft
For betrayal and heartbreak
You could have watered them
With your copious tears
Still, I remained untethered
You finally resolved
Your pain
Or so I thought

Herbs grew in the window
Fragrant basil and bay
For hatred and death
After a year, you imbued
A calm elegance
To the back garden
White chrysanthemums
For mourning
On top of my unmarked grave

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

The Way of Love – Go

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The lowly phone can be a Godsend in these trying times. It can even relieve adolescent isolation, assuming your teenagers are willing to use that little green icon at the bottom of their smart phone screen. Most young people communicate via text. I saw a TV show in which the daughter asked her mom for advice about a boy who had texted her several times. Mom said, “Why don’t you call and ask him out?” Her daughter gasped in horror and said, “Call?!?! How rude!” Etiquette may have changed in the decades between mother and daughter, but the human voice is still an effective cure for isolation.

Jesus calls us to go out into the community, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. When He was asked by the Pharisees to identify the greatest commandment under Jewish Law, he responded by giving them two new commandments:

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  –Matthew 22:37-39

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Meals on Wheels volunteers delivered to individual customers by coming into the home. These wonderful volunteers put their love for their neighbors to practical use. They’d chat, socialize and do a wellness check.  Now they provide contactless* delivery to protect the health of the recipients, who are typically among the most vulnerable to the virus, as well as the volunteers themselves and their families.  The organization finds other ways to provide human contact and perform wellness checks, primarily by phone.

I’m as guilty as that teenage daughter of not picking up the phone, so I will have to start using the little green icon myself.

 

* Prior to the pandemic, “contactless” referred to credit cards that could be waved in front of a merchant’s card reader device at checkout, without swiping the card or otherwise making contact with the device. I think it’s going to be one of those words on a very sad list that Merriam Webster will publish in 6-12 months under a title like “How the Covid-19 Pandemic Forever Changed the English Language.”

The Way of Love – Go

“Don’t worry when you’re in a place of darkness. God is there as well. There’s nowhere God is not. In fact, we can experience profound times of spiritual growth in times of darkness.” — Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE

The Way of Love challenges us to go out into the world to love one another.

Jesus spent the last three years of his life going. He went away from his home and family, called strangers to follow him, embraced those from other cultures and socialized with people from all walks of life.

Social media makes it possible for our words to go even when we cannot. We can shine the light for each other even if we are thousands of miles apart.

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” — Luke 8:16

The Way of Love – Blessing

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Today’s theme is blessing. We are challenged to pass along blessings, to share something  that will be a blessing to that person, to engage them in conversation, to listen to and dignify their stories and to share our stories with them.

One story worth sharing is that of The Bishop Walker School. It is an independent school in southeast Washington, D.C. that is primarily supported by donations from churches in the area. This area of D.C. is economically challenged, and students face numerous obstacles to getting a quality education and living a healthy life. The Bishop Walker School attempts to address some of those obstacles without charging tuition. The school admits students regardless of their religion.

You can watch a video about the school here.  I hope you find it inspirational!

 

The Way of Love – Turning

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The Way of Love is a way of looking at the practices that connect us to God and to each other. Some are spiritual and some are practical actions. During Lent, we are looking at one practice each day of the week.

Wednesday’s theme is “turning.” We are challenged to turn away from self-centeredness and reorient ourselves toward God “like a flower turning to face the sun.” (I love that analogy!)

In the Bible there are striking examples of life-changing “turns.” The most mind-blowing  turnaround was Saul, who had made it his life’s work to persecute followers of Christ. On the road to Damascus, Saul was blinded by a flash of light, through which he heard Jesus speak. When Saul reached Damascus, a follower of Christ healed his blindness. Afterward, Saul changed his name to Paul and travelled extensively to bring the good news of Christ to others. Paul’s letters to the churches he founded are memorialized in the New Testament.

In this 13-minute video on the practice of turning, the host interviews Rev. Becca Stevens, who founded an organization called Thistle Farms to help victims of trafficking, prostitution and addiction. They discuss the turning point in Rev. Stevens’ personal life that prompted her to begin her life’s work, as well as the organization’s efforts to allow so many women a safe space to turn their own lives around.

The Way of Love – Learn

evening sun

Tuesday’s challenge is to read and study the scripture. I chose a few passages that fit into our theme of light and darkness.

In the Old Testament, we see reflections of a prophecy for the future, for the arrival of a great light, which we understand to be Jesus. Isaiah prophesied:

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”  –Isaiah 9:2

I have lived in that land of deep darkness. But I still have faith in the light.  The apostle John said of Jesus:

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  –John 1:4-5

We see the imagery of light throughout the gospel:

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”  –John 8:12

Jesus is my light and my hope. For what is life without hope? Hope keeps us moving forward. And it is difficult to move in any direction without light. At the last supper, Jesus comforted his disciples, preparing them to move forward without Him:

“‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'”  –John 16:33

I remember this quote often as I struggle through daily life. I hope you find it uplifting, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Way of Love – Going

 

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The Way of Love is the daily devotion I am following during Lent, along with my sister. The theme for Friday was “going.” This refers to Jesus’ practice of engaging diverse individuals and groups as he went along the path of his ministry. It’s not about travelling, rather it’s about who we encounter, and how we engage with them.

As part of our study of The Way of Love, we were challenged to ask God to help us see the world the way God sees the world. My first thought was that, if God wasn’t omniscient, She would be really confused! So many times throughout history, even now, we humans have touted God as the reason for violence, prejudice and worse. How many of us know people who distrust those of a different religion?

How do I think God sees the world? I thought about this all day Friday and prayed about it, too. I think He views it with disappointment as well as hope. Some people I’ve encountered view the world as hopeless, on a tragic path toward ecological and spiritual death. But most seem to accept the uncertainty and try to make things better by treating people and the environment with loving care.

I view the world with hope as I see young people caring about the earth and the people on it.  They are inventing technology to treat disease, clean up the environment, communicate, educate and entertain. They are hyperaware, motivated, dedicated. And so, so smart!

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”     – 1 Cor. 13:6-7