Thursday, September 13, 2012

love spells death

there's a lot of rancor swirling around, isn't there? a lot of anger, some justified but most not, a lot of vitriol and hate, talk of revenge and name-calling and just pure meanness. sometimes i feel like i am being smothered in it.  accusations and rumors, wars, divorces of both spouses and friends ... frustration and fury seem to march side by side along every path. christians are not exempt from this, not at all. let's be honest:  in some arenas we are worse.

i am rereading a book right now - one of my absolute "must read" recommendations" - and something he says in the opening interview of the book struck me like a thunderbolt. this author is not a poet or a reclusive scholar-priest, but the son of a russian diplomat, raised in persia during the russian revolution, shipwrecked in gibraltar, gypsied across europe in poverty, eventually teaching math, chemistry and latin to pay for his education as a doctor. he became a french citizen, joined the revolution and served in WWII as both a surgeon and a revolutionary. he secretly took monastic vows because you could not be both a monk and a doctor. he is no dusty couch potato.

"so often when we say 'i love you' we say it with a huge 'i' and a small 'you'. we love as a conjunction instead of it being a verb implying action. it's no good just gazing out into open space hoping to see the Lord; instead we have to look closely at our neighbor, someone whom God has willed into existence, someone whom God has died for. everyone ... has a right to exist, because he has value in himself, and we are not used to this. the acceptance of otherness is a danger to us, it threatens us. to recognize the other's right to be himself might mean recognizing his right to kill me. but if we set a limit at his right to exist, it's no right at all. Love is difficult. Christ was crucified because he taught a kind of love which is a terror for men, a love which demands total surrender: it spells death."

'beginning to pray' by anthony bloom is actually a book about prayer - shocker! - but this little bit from the prologue seemed particularly appropriate to our time. nevermind the idea of someone who would want to kill you; how are you, how am i, doing at accepting the right to exist of people who believe differently, vote differently, love differently? are we willing to look right in their eyes, face to face, and say, "God willed you to exist, and you have intrinsic personal, human value." can we say, with any degree of honestly, "your otherness is ok with me. i will love anyways." are we living at all a Love which is a verb?