Tag Archives: love

Living on the Edge

While life on hospice has become more normal for me, I still have the feeling that I am “living on the edge.”  Today is all I really have for certain and I need to live each day with that in mind.   While my strength is waning a little each day, signs of the inability of my heart not being able to pump blood to my extremities point toward heart failure and I face a heart attack at any time.  I realize that tomorrow may not be mine to live and therefore  make sure to tell my loved ones every day of my love for them and thank them for their loving care for me.  And I try to live each day as fully as I can—not knowing whether I will have another one.     I am blessed that I have this foreknowledge of my condition so I can prepare, as many do not have that foreknowledge. Others are not so blessed.

But as I look at this dangerous world in which we live I think  all of us are in a similar position to mine.   Illnesses strike us down unexpectedly; terrorists set off car bombs or blow themselves up in large crowds;  automobile accidents snuff  out lives quickly and without warning;  we are gunned down by bullets meant for others but we are unluckily in their path or a deranged shooter chooses the  place we are in to open fire —it may be a shopping mall, a movie theater, a school or a church.  It seems that we are not safe anywhere!

The principle is the same or all of us—without warning we and our loved ones lives may be snuffed out.

So when we tell our loved ones goodbye in the morning we need to tell them that they are loved   That may be the last time we have a chance to do so   Death is so final—-it erases any attempt we might wish we had to express our love; to express our need for forgiveness;  to express our own forgiveness to those we love.

That is the life we all live as we are “living on the edge”.   We may not think the phrase applies to us, but it does.   Give your husband, your wife, your children, your mother and father, your grandchildren  and your siblings the love you feel for them every chance you are given  because, like it or not we are all “living on the edge”  every day.

May we build our lives as the French writer Stephen Grellet (1773-1855) wrote:

I shall pass thru this world but once.

Any good I can do or any kindness I can show another human being

Let me do it now.

Let me not deter or neglect it—

FOR I SHALL NOT PASS THIS WAY AGAIN.

We Need Each Other

All human beings live under the illusion they  are the ones who are in control of their lives.  Especially Americans see themselves as “rugged individualists” who have a “I can do it by myself and don’t need anyone else to help me”attitude.    This even shows up in our attitude toward church in the  feeling that “I  don’t need the church.  I can have my own personal relationship with God without s bunch of sinners around me who are more messed up than me. ”  These people say “I am not religious, I’m spiritual’.

This illusion is exposed when we face end of life.     I am seeing how illusory the attitude is as I grow more and more dependent on hospice and on  those I love     There are many things I can’t do and my wife and son Greg are always there to help me.   Without them I would be in a nursing home already—-but with them with me and with hospice  I am able to be home in surroundings I love.  I am loved and cared for by others  and am very blessed with a church family  who visits, sends cards a .  I am  seeing how false the illusion of “individualism”is as I get telephone calls and cards from friends and loved ones both in the church and outside the church.

We are born to live in relationship with others.    We started as babies completely dependent on our parents for a long period of time., and  many of us end our lives in the same way—dependent on those who love us.  All of our lives we need relationships.   We are created in the image of God who wants relationship with us—-  Love is a relationship word and cannot be limited anymore than God can be limited .   Love is shown only through action in relationship to others;

We need others in our lives if we love God.   God is not completely loved by us until we love our neighbors., because they are all God’s children.    It is the role of the church to provide those relationships and to encourage us to develop relationships with God and our fellow human beings.  To those who who say  “I have a personal relationship with God and that’s all I need” I would say “stop fooling yourself.”    You cannot fully love God if you don’t fully love  your neighbors., God’s children, made in God’s image.

God  works with these neighbors to provide his love and care to you.     They actually are the deliverers of God’s grace.   You cannot receive God’s love and care on a bank with a fishing pole in your hand.   You receive God’s love through others who love God and are recipients of God’s love and grace.

Climbing Ladders

There is a drive in all of us to achieve success in our lives.   That is what our ego’s, or as Rohr puts it “our false self” feeds upon.   Seldom do we take time to really define what “success” is.    What is “success” for you?   You will have to answer that question, I can’t.   I have a hard enough time answering  the question for myself!

On my wall above my desk are some physical signs of what might be called success.   Three college degrees (including two Master’s degrees);  Awards of various kinds from both the Education field (Who’s Who in American Education, e.g.)  and the field of Christian Ministry (Minister Emeritus of Christian Church in Kansas, e.g.).   Does that mean I’m a success?   No—it means some people think that I am a success, I feel.

I have pictures in my office of my two children, a boy and a girl.   They are now adults and are doing well—but most important they are loving and caring individuals who are contributing to society.   Does that make me a success?   I’d like to think so,  but who knows but what they would be the same despite me being there to help raise them—-and I have to share any success in that area with my wife who did more to raise them than I was able to do while working two jobs to support my family.

I have a nice, comfortable home in Wichita and a loving wife to share it with after the death of my first wife.   We have two cars and a half-garage full of woodworking tools that I love to use.    My life is comfortable and I’ve had reasonably good health for my age in the late seventies.   Does that make me a success?   It may mean that I am blessed by God far beyond what I deserve, but I do not believe material things make me a success.

Wherein should my feeling of success lay then?    As I write this I am reminded of the words of Thomas Merton:  “People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.”

I am trying, at this point in my life, to lean my ladder of success on the right wall—God’s wall.   The only true success I can strive to attain is in an ever closer relationship to God.    I found at the sudden death of my first wife that all the knowledge and skills that I had were of no value in dealing with an event over which I had absolutely no control.   I turned to God and said:   “Help me God, I can’t do this without you.”   And I felt a peace come over me and knew that God heard and began the healing process of my heart at that point.

Since that time, as God helped heal my grief and led me to a loving caring and Godly  woman that would share my life and become my wife,  I have realized more and more that the ladder to success for each of us mortals is the ladder to God.   The happiness my wife and I feel today is the result of a “God-thing”, we both agree.   So I have endeavored to place my ladder of success on the wall of God.

And the greatest thing about the ladder  to God is that we don’t have to laboriously climb it from day to day with great fear of falling and failing—-instead our God of love and grace comes down the ladder to dwell  with us now; right here,  and will do so forever.    Amen

Our Cycle of Fear is Killing Us

 

Present day Americans are full of fear.  We fear other people who are not “like” us.  We fear other religions.   We fear poverty and street people (homeless).  We fear terrorists attacks.   We fear our government.   We fear Republicans or Democrats (whichever we’re not).  We fear unemployment.  We who are older fear retirement and running out of money before we die.  If we are black, we fear policemen  .   If we are  policemen, we fear blacks.   We fear flying due to terrorist attacks.  We fear mass shootings in shopping malls and we fear for our children with mass shootings at schools.  So what do we do?—-we buy guns to protect ourselves from other people who are not like us.  We install expensive security systems in our homes our schools and our municipal building and our airports.   In my home state of Kansas, you can openly carry guns on the streets and in most public buildings, and you can conceal carry also without a permit.   With all these guns, has the homicide rate gone down, have mass shootings subsided any?    Are we safer with all our guns and security systems? Or do we now need to fear guns even more because everyone has one and few know how and when to safely use them?   So the circle of fear goes on and on, around and around, in an unending cycle of violence and fear and violence and fear and people continue to die because of our fears.  OUR FEARS ARE KILLING US!!

Isn’t there another way to live our lives?   A better way?   Jesus pointed to it a couple thousand years ago?   Paul explained it in I Corinthians 13:1-13.   But it seems that we Christians have missed the point  that  both were making—-The way of love is the key to end fear, not more weapons.     Jesus said it when he explained that the greatest commandment is to love God and love your neighbor as yourself.    Paul summed it up in his “love chapter” in I Corinthians 13: 1-13 as “the better way he will show them:  “Faith, hope and love remain, but the greatest of these is love.”   

After years of fear,  and of killing other individuals out of fear in our own country and   killing others around the world because of our fear of them, isn’t it time to try another way—a better way—-the way of love instead of instead of the way of hatred and fear and the resulting violence?

Take the Iraq War, for example:   We have spent, as a nation, according to a study by Brown University in 2013,  $1.7 trillion.   Add to this the benefits paid to veterans over their lifetime and the cost goes to over $6 trillion dollars.  This war started out of fear—a fear that turned out to be unfounded—-that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was preparing to use them on the U.S.   The weapons were never found, but the U.S. made a preemptive first strike and then it was too late.    So, fear ran its course and thousands upon thousands of human lives were extinguished on both sides because of that fear. And 2 + trillion dollars were spent because of that fear.  We chose to act out of fear and have reaped what benefits?    More fear and more hatred from those whose families we have killed.  More suffering and fear by our soldiers who were maimed and whose lives were ended or changed forever by their time in Iraq.  And now we see the rise of ISIS that operating by generating fear and hatred of all but their own brand of  Islamic extremists—- and the fear of ISIS is  threatening to start the cycle all over again.  And the circle of fear goes on and on, and on, and on, and on…..

Love is the only way to break  the circle of violence we are caught in..   Consider this thought:   if we had taken the 2 trillion dollars spent on the Iraq war and spent it for humanitarian purposes in the Middle East and in poverty stricken nations, including our own nation’s poor and homeless.   If we had used the money  to lift people up, helping them to find ways for them to produce food to feed themselves, providing hospitals and adequate medical care,  helping them improve technologically so that they might be able to earn a decent living. If  we had spent money for humanitarian things like decent water wells, the Heifer Project, the Peace Corps, If we had used the money to house our homeless, to provide jobs for the unemployed in our country-— In other words if we had used that 2 trillion dollars to show  love and care for human beings created in God’s image—-  instead of shooting them down in fear and hatred in other countries,  and  hiding the poor behind barriers in our own  country,   have we any idea what difference that might  have made?   Will we ever know?   Not until we have tried it.  

The gun creates fear and hatred.   Love creates trust and compassion.   That is true on the individual level and it is true on the national and international level.    Perhaps it is time to end the politics of fear and try the politics of love at all levels—but the best place to begin is in our own lives, in our own cities and towns in our country.   Who knows, it might spread to our states, our country and the world from those simple beginnings?!   The change begins with you!!

A Mother’s Love….

I am reposting this for Mother’s Day from last year and will do so each year.  Hope you enjoy reading it as a reminder.

There is a common answer given by most people who have performed an heroic, life-threatening deed in order to save another human being.   In response to the inevitable question by a TV report asking “What did you feel when you were doing that?” the answer is usually “I really felt nothing.”

For example, a stranger who helped pull three children from a burning car answered the question about how he felt with the words:   “I didn’t even think about it.  It was happening so fast, and I knew I just had to get them out of there.”   Another example is the mother who lifted a tree that had pinned her son’s leg:   “I didn’t even feel how heavy it was—-until I put it down.”

You see, when love, care, and compassion for another take over completely, it is expressed in actions, not feelings.   Love is action!  Genuine love always leaps before it looks!    

That is exactly the love we celebrate on Mother’s Day this coming weekend—love in action.   Love is the force behind all the meals Mom prepares and prepared for us;  love is behind the chauffered trips to soccer, baseball, ballet, piano lesson, etc.   Love is behind all of those good-night books read to sleepy children by a tired mom at the end of a long day; love is behind all the walks and talks—-and all the other things that Mom’s do today and did in the past.    Our mothers may have not told us they loved us very often, but we knew from their actions as we look back on them how much they did love and care for us and still do if we are blessed enough to still have them with us.

So—on Mother’s Day try to do something that shows how much you love and appreciate your mother.   Don’t just tell her we love her, but DO SOMETHING TO SHOW YOUR LOVE.!

Shortly before Jesus’ death he gave his disciples a new commandment  (See John 13:31-35)     He told them to “show your love”.   He said “Love one another as I have loved you.”   He said, “By your love for each other they will know you are my disciples.”   And the love Jesus recommended was action oriented.   Jesus showed people his care for them by healing, teaching, and showing them his compassion—not just talking about it!  

How do we measure up to this commandment of love—-by our actions—not our words.   

Let me give you an example from my own life.   One Christmas, not too long after our daughter Lisa was married, my wife (now deceased) and I received a frame letter from her.   It says, in part…

“THANK YOU….

for staying together.   there are so few children today who have two parents.   Through your commitment to each other in good times and bad times you have taught me that love does not give up and it does not leave.   I saw modeled in you that love is a choice, not always a feeling.

thank you for lots of hugs and love.   You taught me that showing affection is a good thing and that I should never be embarrassed to say “I love you”.   Your affection shown to one another assured me that all was well in the world…

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for patiently persevering and loving me unconditionally even when I was the most stubborn and difficult to be around.   The love, sacrifice, and commitment you have shown me has not gone unnoticed.

You have laid a foundation in my life of security, confidence and love that has enabled me to love and be loved.   I am seeing the value of this foundation in my marriage and also in my most important relationship with God….”

This framed letter is one of my most important possessions.  It shows how love for each other influences those around us, including our children.

ARE WE DOING THIS?   Not always!   As this story indicates:

The story is told about a Los Angeles police officer who pulled a driver over to the side of the freeway and asked for his license and registration.

“What’s wrong officer?” the driver asked, “I didn’t go through any red lights, and I certainly wasn’t speeding.”

“No you weren’t speeding or breaking any laws, the officer said:   “but I saw you flashing the one-fingered salute as you swerved around the lady who was driving too slow in the center lane, and I further observed your flushed and angry face as you shouted unprintable things at the driver of the Hummer who cut you off, and I saw how you pounded your steering wheel when the freeway traffic ground to a halt.”

“Is that a crime, officer?”

“No, but when I saw the “JESUS LOVES YOU AND SO DO I” bumper sticker on your car, I figured, “This car has go to be stolen!”

LOVE IS LESS WHAT YOU SAY AND FEEL THAN IT IS WHAT YOU DO!   Amen.