Love one another

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

~ John 13:34, from the reading for Maundy Thursday.

Still thinking Maundy Thursday thoughts about love here on this final day of waiting for Easter.

As that last meal begins, Jesus lays aside his outer garment, ties a towel around his waist, and begins to wash and dry the feet of his disciples. When Peter resists, Jesus tells Peter that if he can’t accept this act of love and care, “you have no share with me.”

Love can’t fully flourish except in relationship, and sometimes we—like Peter—find it even harder to accept love than to offer it. To let yourself be loved, you have to make yourself vulnerable. Opening a channel for love means revealing parts of yourself you might rather have kept hidden. It means admitting how much you need that love. It means acknowledging that you can’t make it on your own.

From Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as partners: “To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value … to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.”

That is exactly what grace–the lived experience of God’s love—does for us.

The season of Lent is meant to help us let go of our resistance and and accept God’s love more and more.

So that when Easter dawns we can take up that challenge, to love one another, “just as I have loved you.”

A sermon for Maundy Thursday

As that last meal begins, Jesus lays aside his outer garment, ties a towel around his waist, and begins to wash and dry the feet of his disciples. When Peter resists, Jesus tells Peter that if he can’t accept this act of love and care, “you have no share with me.”

Love can’t fully flourish except in relationship, and sometimes we—like Peter—find it even harder to accept love than to offer it. To let yourself be loved, you have to make yourself vulnerable. Opening a channel for love means revealing parts of yourself you might rather have kept hidden. It means admitting how much you need that love. It means acknowledging that you can’t make it on your own.

From Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together as partners: “To love someone is not first of all to do things for them, but to reveal to them their beauty and value … to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.”

That is exactly what grace–the lived experience of God’s love—does for us.

The season of Lent is meant to help us let go of our resistance and and accept God’s love more and more.

So that when Easter dawns we can take up that challenge, to love one another, “just as I have loved you.”

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Shad fishing

Shad fishing at Lewis Island, the last commercial shad fishery on the upper Delaware. I love shad season. As a photographer, that is. I love that there is this little bit of local culture that persists even though there are so many easier ways to get some fish. It’s beautiful to watch the group of effort involved in pulling that seine net out and around and back in again every evening. 

The only thing I still don’t understand is, who really wants to eat a shad, anyway?

Sunset over the Delaware

There are days when you’re just sitting there enjoying your hamburger and something tells you to look out the window and then it tells you to put down your fork and go.

Once again quoting one of my favorites, the poet and priest John O’Donohue:

“The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere … When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming. Some of our most wonderful memories are of beautiful places where we felt immediately at home. We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful for it meets the needs of our soul. For a while the strings of struggle and endurance are relieved and our frailty is illuminated by a different light in which we come to glimpse behind the shudder of appearances the sure form of things. In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act. Beauty brings a sense of completion and sureness.”


Remembering Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today is the anniversary of Dietrich’s Bonhoeffer’s execution by the Nazis in 1945. Bonhoeffer is remembered and honored on this day in the Episcopal Church, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the challenges we Christians who admire his example still face 74 years after his death.

I’m thinking especially about something a good person said to me yesterday, a comment that reflected an attitude rooted in white supremacy which I’m sure I wouldn’t have recognized before I started the Me and White Supremacy Workbook at the beginning of Lent. And I should have called this person out on that comment, and I didn’t, because it would have seemed rude and hurtful to someone whose heart I know is in the right place on this and a number of other social justice issues.

I’m still struggling with that. Given a chance to go back and do it over again, I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t say anything. But so many of us have so much to learn, and how will that happen if we don’t start talking to each other?

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Birds

The daily battle to protect his territory by scaring away his own reflection in our attic window. A reminder of all the times I’ve found myself locked in combat with a false enemy that turns out to be my own self.
In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.
~ Robert Lynd

Take refuge in your senses

A few writers stand out for me in their ability to use just a few simple words to convey deep spiritual truths. Henri Nouwen was one. The Irish priest and poet John O’Donohue was another. 

O’Donohue especially was able to express those inchoate feelings and desires that are so tangled for most of us—or for me, at least—that I don’t even know they’re there until I come upon a word or phrase in something he wrote and am surprised to recognize myself in it.

The photo is mine. The quote is from O’Donohue’s “For One Who Is Exhausted, a Blessing,” from “To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings,” by John O’Donohue:

When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight.

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