Saturday, January 26, 2008

JUICY FRUITY LOVE: Juicy Fruit of the Spirit - Part 2 - January 12, 2008

“If I know what love is, it is because of you.”
Herman Hesse

Since the beginning of time, human beings have puzzled about, agonized over, sought after, shied away from, and bask in the light of love. It’s one of those things that are difficult to define—although everyone from Charlie Brown to Gandhi have tried—but you know it when you see it.
Or maybe I should say, you know it when you feel it. In Story of My Life, Helen Keller wrote:

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding line, and no way of knowing how near the harbor was. "Light! Give me light!" was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.

We have all had our “at sea in a dense fog” experiences; times when it feels like we are groping along without plummet and sounding-line.

Years ago, when I was still a fairly new and inexperienced driver, I was driving home alone from my counseling job at Northern Michigan University, to K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, in a white-out. I was terrified! It was pitch black and my headlights illuminated the blizzard of snowflakes that the wind was driving relentlessly at my windshield. My eyes struggled in vain to focus past the snow. I was lost in a shaken up snow globe with no sense of direction.

Having grown up in New York and Indiana, I thought I knew snow, but life in northern Michigan introduced me to the profound power and danger of all those delicate, beautiful, tiny little flakes in cahoots with each other and with the wind. This, of course, was before the days of cell phones, GPS devices, and OnStar. It was just me and God and a gazillion capricious snowflakes. The sense of aloneness was overwhelming. And, believe you me, I was prayin’ up a storm (pun intended)! How my tires remained on the roadway, God only knows.

For Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan’s determination to reach through Helen’s blindness and deafness was the beacon of love responding to “the wordless cry of my soul.” The beacon of love that led me safely home that wintry evening was God. Sometimes LOVE reaches out to us through other people; and sometimes LOVE enters our terror directly and steers us home.

What fog or white-out are you lost in right now? Perhaps you are in the midst of a stormy relationship, or negotiating blindly through divorce, or feeling deluged by a diagnosis of cancer. Maybe you have been blindsided by the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. Or maybe your heart is being tugged in two directions and you don’t know what to do. Your soul cries out, “Light! Give me light!” Trust that your Harbor is close by, even though you can’t see it. Know that this storm will pass and your path will become clear.

The only thing that gets us through the overwhelming storms in life is love: God’s love. But it is our calling, our privilege, to be God’s love with skin on it. We are the beacons of God’s love. Mother Teresa said, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” What small thing can you do to help another person hold onto hope in the midst of their storm? Just knowing that someone else cares, that someone else sees your pain and is willing to sit with you through it, is the miracle that keeps you paddling. A card. A hug. A smile. A willingness to make eye contact with eyes full of fear or sadness. A casserole. A ride to the hospital. A phone call. A sack of groceries. A shoveled driveway…

You are God’s GPS to the lives around you.

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