Archive for the ‘love’ Category

You can never really have enough of what you don’t really want.

Yesterday we lollygagged and casu-shuffled through Louis IV’s chateau at Versailles. It was exhausting, just trying to see part of it, just trying to comprehend that kind of over-the-top-of-the-top, squared-off pile of stone, wood and velvet luxurification. 

Did Louis really want all that — that many rooms, that many stairs, that many painted ceilings, that many mirrors, that long of a garden, that many people to back up his that-many indulgences — 10,000? 
He may have. Apparently he convinced himself and many others to pretend that he was sunshine. 
But maybe, just maybe — not sure — Louis just wanted to be loved, wanted the sanguine apricity of the court, and it was his mother who duped him in to thinking that he wanted to be obeyed, over-indulged and glorified.

Wow, glorified? How would you live with yourself, fragile and human — yet Mars, and Apollo? 
Those who cultivate worship, or even settle for mere obsequiousness may really — beyond their overly-conditioned and underly-personalized level of ankle-deep consciousness — actually be craving for even just a splash of radiant sincerity. 

Yeah. 

But the opposite may be true too. 

You may never really be able to have enough of what you really want either, even if it is simple, basic, early-morning, in-your-heart kind of stuff. It’s raining in Paris. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, no sunshine, lots of love, from my wife, my friends, my people back home. I really wanted a good coffee this morning. I got it, as ordered, an extra shot in my latte. It’s epidemic with me, with all of us. We want more caffeine — and more love. We all do, we always do. 

But at some point the caffeine stops adding energy, the checked-off world destinations stop adding cultural texture, and the love stops adding value — because we already have value.  More? Want it or not — perhaps it just adds to our anxiety. 

 

“What’s left?” I asked my friend Tim McConnell as we sat eating lunch at Roberto’s in Del Mar today. “What else do you want out of life?”

He paused, then said, “To be meaningfully connected to people.”

I like it.

I agree with Tim, and would like connection even more if I wasn’t also hard wired to adore places, plants and planetaries — plus various, sundry and other unspoken pleaseries and delightifications.

My friend Tim has it right, however, and nicely dialed in: To be with people — that’s the good stuff.

Last Saturday night I attended the wedding of two friends  — Violet Mendez and Mathew Opdycke — in the REFINERY Church courtyard.

After the ceremony — which was full of laughter and love —  the inner patio of the church was transformed as it filled with people laughing, drinking, eating, dancing and celebrating this new couple’s relationship.

In the warm, spring evening air we were suddenly living large, whooping it up with two beautifully connected young people who had just made one of the ultimate connectivity choices —  to get married, to fuse lives, to become union, unit and united force.

Several years ago, I hired the building of the stage that Matthew and Violet married on last Saturday night. I remember designing the stage, pouring over the plans, negotiating with the contractor, making it happen.  I knew it would become something good, but little did I know how good.

I didn’t anticipate something this gently gorgeous — the two lovers, my good friends, these two adorable aspirants — these two moving together, heads close, giggling, twirling  bonding there. As they danced — and we all watched in hushed reverence — the stage became sacred space for love.

Then later that same evening, on the same pavered stage we all danced, wedding party and guests, mutual celebrants, romping in the church courtyard, shaking sacred booty in the holy place, moving as one to the music — alive, happy, connected.

I love places — planned, planted, planet-making places — but like Tim, I love people more. To hold a lover’s hand and walk together through a park, to sit in the evening on a couch and read to a child, to kiss your grandma’s cheek, to sing with your friends, to lift a glass with mutual revelers, to dance with anyone — this is the good within the good of the unremittingly good.

Yesterday we celebrated my daughter Roz’s thirty-second birthday. I thought it might be painful. It wasn’t. I thought it might remind me of her losses — the lifelong loss of normalcy, of ability and of opportunity that have fallen to her and our family because of her developmental disabilities. It didn’t.

The party conjured no sad feelings; it brought up no regrets. Instead it was a delightful affair with a delightful group of her long-time friends, all who have disabilities, all who are amazing, fun, loving people.

Eleven of Roz’s friends came, and when each new one entered the house they were greeted by the rest with warmth, enthusiasm and great affection. It was markedly different  than parties where everyone is “normal.” This party was more demonstrative; they were more excited to see each other and it was more fun. They pointed more, laughed more and definitely hugged each other more than you see at most such events.

They ate pizza, gobbled brownies, scooped ice cream and opened presents together — a circle of friends, around the table, then on the floor,  practically levitated by kindness up into the living room air. One of the girls read Roz’s cards to her. It was a touching moment, one friend caring for another without even a pause for judgment or for surprise or analysis. Not being able to read is no big deal to this group, most of them can’t, it doesn’t matter, they don’t judge.

What is a good life? Is it being smart? Does one have to be beautiful? Is wealth required? Must one rise above the others, control the room, star on the stage?

Nope.

One must simply love and be loved.

“Love hurts.”

Pop music said so. Sometimes we say so.

The Bible never said that.

The Bible, while acknowledging the sacrifice that is often involved in love — for instance the death of Christ — sees more than pain in love.

The Bible mostly focuses on the good, not the hurt, that comes from love.

Colossians 3:14. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

The Bible tells us love helps, heals and harmonizes. We need that today and everyday.

We may be the Tylenol generation, looking for pain relief, but the Bible prescribes it’s own a effective pain killer medicine and it isn’t a drug. It’s love.

A construction contractor came by church on Thursday to look at putting new flooring in room 5. This is where we hold our art class, Bible studies, support groups, REFINERY 101.

Cool because a church member donated $2,000 to do this. Who does that? Just up and says, “I’ll pay for a new floor. Christian people do.

Thats love!

Giving binds us together in a safe, beautiful place, in perfect harmony.

Love hugs us together. At a time when their are some pretty significant divisions in our country, we need that.

The Bible doesn’t say, “put on love so you can be bond to each other in painful relationships.”

The Bible says, “put on love that you may make beautiful music together.

Think of all the people who have loved you and the difference it has made in your life. Parents, kids, aunts and uncles, grandma’s, grandpa’s, friends, brothers, sisters, teachers, doctors, nurses

Their love is easy, good, natural.

Thinking that love will be hard, can cause us to hold back, to stay away from others, to isolate, to limit our relationships to just a few people.

For example, if I see love as hurtful, I might avoid avoid anyone I dislike or disagree with, and while it is true that relating to such people can become uncomfortable, uncomfortable is a small price to pay for connected.

Isolating brings a temporary feeling of safety, but that is not worth the loss in being alone.

God doesn’t want us to live alone, holding back, isolating. What hurts us most is not loving others.

This is important.

Think about it. The two greatest commandments of the Bible both involve love — love God, love your neighbor.

Being close to each other is at the core of God’s purpose for us.

1 John 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The most classic, basic truth in the world is that God is love.

Last week my wife Linda ran into a guy named Chuck Casto at her work at Point Loma University.

Chuck’s daughter, Sonja, died of cancer a few years back, she was 43, had kids.

So when Linda saw Chuck last week, she asked him, “How are you doing Chuck? It’s been a couple of years.” She went there.

And Chuck said, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my daughter. The only thing that helps me is to know she is with God, and that God loves her more than I do.”

“It helps me to know that,” he said. “God love her more than me. That is what helps.”

When love hurts, love helps.

God is love and his love is the power that overcomes different views, disagreements, hurts, even death.

What is Christianity about?

Some people make their Christianity all about rules, or politics, or about Bible reading, or about spiritual gifts, or about signs and wonders, or about doctrine or discipline.

All good, but the Bible makes Christianity all about love.

When all else fails, at times when we fell separated from others, love helps. Love heals. Love keeps us warm, close, safe, satisfied, hopeful.

Last week, I asked my wife, “When did you feel most loved by me?”

She said, “When you came to the hospital and sat with me, and when I needed water and you went out and bought me some, and you had nothing else that was more important than being with me.”

It reminds us. Love is simple. As simple as water. Love is basic, memorable, accepting the other person, just being there.

It comes down to small, daily decisions.

Last week a friend called and wanted to go to coffee. We had trouble scheduling a time. Nothing seem to work.

Then I just made a decision. Pick a time that works for her, and just make it work for you. I choose to love.

We had a great time talking at Starbucks. She texted me after, “I always feel refreshed after talking to you.”

Love refreshes.

Sometimes it is so simple, a little time, just a shift of focus, away from ourselves, toward the other.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

How?

Six simple ways.

1. Spend time together.

2. Be present.

3. Exude warmth.

4. Overlook differences.

5. Forgive the past.

6. Don’t quit

Loving hurts. I’ll give you that.

But not loving hurts more.

What is the kindest thing you have ever seen?

One of the kindest act I ever experienced involved diapers. My wife and I used to take turns changing them. Then one day she did two poopy diapers in a row. So kind!

Another time, I backed our beautiful Lexus SUV into a telephone pole. She only said one thing: “That’s why we have insurance.” It was one of the best silent kindness I have ever experienced.

Last Friday, I was kind to her. We had a guest over for dinner. I came home from work late. That way I didn’t get in her way while she made dinner. I think of myself as growing in kindness.

In politics these days, in the Presidential race, there isn’t much kindness. Instead there is a lot of harshness, name calling, bullying, attacking and shaming.

This is quite unfortunate, because now ridiculing others is thought to be a sign of strength. It’s a bad model for all of us. True strength does not lie in the preschool behavior of name calling.

Authentic power reveals itself with a gentler demeanor.One of the most reliable indicators of healthy, mature leadership is the quiet but famous behavior, kindness.

Our God — the strongest being in the Universe — is fundamentally kind. Some folks mistakenly see God as harsh, judgmental, even cruel. But that is wrong. God is not mean. God is fundamentally and intrinsically kind.

Psalm 145:17-18

The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

Kindness, in the Bible, is a word that is not well distinguished from similar words and this has perhaps led to its neglect. For instance, Psalm 63, pairs kindness with love, as in God’s “lovingkindness.”

In fact, the word kindness overlaps in meaning with many other words, like goodness, mercy, love, grace, favor, compassion and gentleness and so translators often use these words somewhat interchangeably.

But it would be helpful to us, to clarify the meaning of kindness, to distill its essence, to win back its place, because it is a concept — or rather a behavior — that mature, powerful people practice with great specificity.

In Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” kindness is defined as follows: It is “helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped”.

This ancient meaning is in alignment with the NT meaning of kindness which perhaps has one of its richest connotations in the NT word chrestotes, kindness that has a usefulness to it.

Once when my wife and I were vacationing in England, in the Cotswolds, we walked through cow pastures and past sheep and stone walls up to the tiny town of Clapton on the Hill. Our plan was to take the bus back to meet a friend in Burton on the Water.

But when we got to Clapton, a sign said the bus only came through town like once a week.

So we started walking back, when a nice BMW or Audi came by, and stopped and a elderly couple asked, “Do you want a ride?”

We did and so we hopped in with muddy feet saying, “Thank you, thank you but we are so sorry to muddy your beautiful car.”

They shot right back. “Oh, don’t worry. It’s a rental.” It was kind anyway. For all they knew, we were dope smoking serial killers from California.

Kindness is a specific altruistic action, a powerful usefulness, (a ride in the rain), not simply politeness, nice talk or warm, fuzzy sentiments.

Studies show that kind behaviors, helping others, brings better health, better relationships, longer life and even more success in workplaces.

Kindness is powerful. Kindness rescues people, it causes openness, improvement, growth because it gives safe space for change. Think of the power of kindness in everyday life.

A police officer in Florida buys groceries for a poor woman’s caught shoplifting.

A church in Dallas finds foster homes for stray dogs in winter.

People in Chicago raise money for a car for a man who is walking to work.

A restaurant in Chula Vista, Panera Bread, opens its doors to feed homeless people on Thanksgiving Day. The REFINERY Church provides the food.

Kindnesses!

And there are greater than these.

Through kindness thousands of Jews were saved from the Holocaust. Through kindness Mother Teresa set up homes for the dying. And through kindness Bill and Linda Gates are giving away billions of dollars to stop disease.

Kindness is powerful. It is a catalyst for change. It saves lives. The Bible tells us that God’s kindness is like that. Romans 2:4. God’s kindness is meant to lead [us] to repentance.

In his kindness, God holds back judgment, gives us time, to give us a chance to repent, to get right. God’s Kindness makes space for us to change.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that kindness is one of the “most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse”.

Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford is a much-loved First Lady for her honesty, her kindness and her care for others. In 1974, Mrs. Ford discovered she had breast cancer. As a result, she had a radical mastectomy. She went public with this, (not common) and within days, 10,000 letters, 500 telephone calls, 200 telegrams and tons of floral arrangements poured into the White House and her suite at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

How kind!

Betty’s openness about her cancer showed care for others and that is what made others care for her.

In the months that followed Betty’s revelation about her cancer, tens of thousands of American women, inspired by her forthrightness and courage, crowded into doctors’ offices and clinics for breast-cancer examinations.

Kindness embraced difficulty … and changed what was acceptable in society.

Later in life, because of loneliness and stress Betty Ford ended up suffering from alcoholism and a pill addiction, but again she had the courage to face her problem, and recover, and in 1982, she helped found the Betty Ford Center, based on AA, and it became one of the best-known rehab programs in the nation.

Kindness is kind, even to it’s own mistakes, and in that way can lead to healing to ourselves and those around us.

What do we do with all this?

It’s simple. Be kind.

 

One of our church families is buying new flooring for one of our most used rooms. It’s $1800. How kind!

Another of our church members, a doctor, recently on his time off, came to the church and put new glazing in the windows of our classroom building. How humble — and kind.

One of our worship leaders, shows up at special surfer day in La Jolla each summer to help disabled adults try their hand as surfing.

How kind!

Micah 6:8. He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

 

“Three things in human life are important,” said novelist Henry James. “The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

I want to solve all your problems — so read on.

I’d like to help you know who to marry, who to do business with, how to related to people you despise and who to elect the next President of the United States.

You will never have gotten so much from one blog post. Some of you will never come back.

Not really.

I want to focus here not on what to think, but how to think. I want to address Christians, and say that to be godly, we must learn to think and choose well, particularly in the emotional and divisive climate of this Presidential election.

So, what to do?

To be wise, first exercise self-control.

Practice a robust self-control.

Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is “self-control.”

If your follow Christ, if the spirit of God really lives in you, then you have the power to control yourselves. Self-control is the tasty fruit on the green branches of the true Christian.

Someone told me recently, that they were having trouble thinking negative thoughts at work. Then someone else said to them, “You know you are choosing that.”

Really!” They thought. “I choose what I think.

Yes, you do, and you can choose to put negative thoughts out of your head.

When your thinking gets fearful, negative, anxious, you can gently turn your attention to something positive.

Someone, a Christian, recently began to gush in front of me who they were going to vote for for President, and then why. It was awkward, not very well-thought out.

People are quite emotional about this election, and not very rational.

I didn’t agree with this gushing person, there was a lot of hate in what they said, but they had been drinking too much and they were ranting  and so I controlled myself, said a little and then shut up

James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

All this, being pure, peace-loving, considerate, impartial  — it requires self-control. We Christians can do that. When someone says what they think in front of us about their politics, we should have the self-control to listen, and to withhold speaking too soon, to give our elves time to weigh a good response.

Let the quiet voice inside, the Holy Spirit remind you to stay calm, and loving. If you speak your opinion, speak simply, truthfully, respectfully, stick to issues. Avoid personal attacks. When you adamantly disagree, I recommend that you still exercise self-control, gentleness and respect so that you walk away able to talk with that person again.

And alway remain open — to rethinking your position.

Look again at James 3:17

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is … “impartial.”

Christians, be impartial.

Wow! What does that mean, to be impartial? It means to weigh both sides, to avoid bias, to be fair, to be just, to not be prejudicial, to not be only for “your” people/

Take the current issue between the police and our black communities.

We Christians need to care and pray for both. And we need to try to understand. Why are blacks upset? Why are the police afraid?

We need to ask God to break our hearts over this issue, if we are not already grieving. What kind of thinking, training and behaviors would help change this horrible conflict? Let’s pray for protection, solutions, for understanding for both sides.

On political issues, most of us tend to get stuck in one mind-set, perhaps the same as what we grew up with. Some of us, who watch only our one, favorite news station may have become very bias. We are perhaps eating too much,  of our favorite political, one-sided ice cream.

Last week I brought home a bag of Brussels sprouts and also, a tub of vanilla bean ice cream. I ate both. Well, not together.

One of them made me gag.

I must admit, I have a bias. I prefer the ice cream. I really only love Brussel sprouts I if I put bacon on them.

So I told my wife, don’t bring home any more ice cream. What? Why?

Because my doctor told me to lower my cholesterol.

Just because I prefer something, doesn’t mean it is good for me.

I would suggest you read opinions the opposite of your own, Brussel sprout opinions, and weigh the issues as unbiasedly as possible. If your partiality is so strong that you find yourself ranting, and attacking others, and calling names, you have lost your Spirit-given self-control.

What we need right now are people who understand the differing sides of the issues, and who think of solutions that work for everyone, thus becoming the peacemakers of James 3:17.

Those of us who become overly one-sided and resort to emotional, personal attacks on others do not have the Spirit of Christ within.

Stay in control, be fair and then — very importantly — work at thinking Biblically. That takes work. Think like a Christian first — think like a Democrat, Republican or Independent second.

Do not let one other person or political party or pastor or spouse for that matter represent or control your mind.

How?

Now is the time to be reading your Bible at least as much as you are watching the news. The news might confuse you. Your Bible will clear your head.

So you might ask.

What is Biblical thinking?

That is a tough one. Many Christians limit it to thinking with Biblical morality.

That has truth to it, but I believe that true Biblical thinking is not so much about putting out a moral, legalistic formula that we then bash everyone else with. Biblical thinking is thinking like Jesus.

Jesus weighed every person and issue in front of him individually and fairly. The only group he much went after were those with a religiously legalistic platform. Jesus was always tuned into God, listening to what God was telling him rather than to the moralistic leaders on the national Jewish or Roman news.

And secondly, Jesus preached that the greatest Biblical, moral commandment is love. This election year, following Christ, we need to keep our love on.

If Jesus is your Lord, then remember that Jesus taught you that your political goal, your primary Biblical morality, is to love your neighbor as yourself. Listen, political Christians, no one adequately leads you except Jesus. Maintain a limited, parsed support for your preferred candidates and their worldly views. Put your main trust in Christ, and measure your candidates and their opinions with his yard stick of love.

Hebrews 12:1 Fix your eyes on Jesus. 

What else, what else is wise?

To be very wise in 2016, stay positive. There is a lot of fear and a lot of negative in our country today. This is causing lots of hateful, uncontrolled, fearful responses to others.

But Christians, “God did not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and self control.” Do not be driven by fear and by its sibling, negative thinking. Control your mind. You can!

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such thing.”

Think about what is good in others, even those you disagree with, and what is good in our country. There is a lot of good, and a lot of freedom and protected rights in our country.

So now we come to the part where I tell you who I am going to vote for President.

I am going to vote for … whoever is most like Joseph.

Joseph?

Joseph is my favorite political leader in the Bible.

His brothers sold him into slavery, but he learned through this difficulty to rely on God. I love to follow leaders who have been humbled by God, who have been trained by  brokenness, who have been pruined by difficulty in such a way that they have given up their selfish motives and live primarily to serve others.

Joseph learned how to forgive, and how to rescue others, and how to think outside the box of his Hebrew roots.

Joseph, once in he came into power, a Hebrew, stored away grain for all the Egyptians, and the Bible says, “all the world came to Egypt.”

Joseph was a servant, a lover, and he even gave food to the very brothers who had previously betrayed him. Joseph was a unifier. He brought people together.

We need more leaders like this in American today, leaders who will bring people together, black and white, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, to feed us all the bread of forgiveness and the tasty, sweet dessert of togetherness.

Measure political candidates by Joseph.

Actually  I haven’t decided my vote for sure. I’m leaning one way, but I’m still hoping for a Joseph or an Esther to run onto the political stage. I would really like another option.

Lastly, to think like a Christian, let love rule you.

I want to repeat this, like a million times. Christians, let love rule! Measure every thought you have this election with the ruler of love. By their fruits you will know them said Jesus. The most delicious, tasty, godly Christian fruit is love.

Jesus taught us to love our neighbor. God is interested in the salvation of everyone. There is nothing xenophobic in Jesus. To vote like a Christian, is to vote for loving solutions for everyone.

Verily, verily I say unto you, you must even love those who vote the opposite as you. Perhaps they are balancing out your biases!

Last weekend I saw the musical Sense and Sensibility at the Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. It was outstanding. Funny! Witty! Entertaining.

At intermission I went to the bathroom. There were two old codgers talking there.

One said, “I couldn’t hear 10% of it.”

The other said, “Don’t worry it’s just a dumb chick flick.”

Why did they go? Their wives made them.

But it was more than a play for girls. One of the lines of the play stuck me as profoundly noble. Elinor, deeply hurt by a lover who betrayed her said, “I wish him (the betrayer). immeasurable happiness.”

That is so magnanimous. That is filled with such love.I took that line home with me and prayed for some folks who have deeply hurt me.

I prayed, “God, I ask you to give them, immeasurable happiness.”

As your think about your hurtful world, let love and forgiveness rule you.

1 John 4:7

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 

Okay, let’s wrap it up, and put a red bow on it. Or is it a blue bow? Or another color?

I have tried to remind you of several simple wisdoms relevant to the times.

Christians, In 2016 please control yourselves. Be impartial. Think Biblically. Think like Jesus. Delight in what is positive.

And love, love love, love both the political Brussel sprouts you don’t like,  and your favorite political ice cream.

But not too much.

I love you.

Will you accept that, no ducking, no side stepping, no avoidance, no over thinking it, no cynicism —  and love me back?

You are one of my readers; this gives us a connection.

It’s not perfect, adequate, even exemplary, but it’s something, and it’s good.

The other day I hugged a friend, warmly, a little longer than usual. I said, “I love you.” I meant it. It was simple but good.  I greeted another with enthusiasm and asked him to go to coffee to discuss a book we have both read. Another sweet one I complimented and told this, “You are  precious cargo, of inestimable value.” That was my daughter.

What the heck? It is good, to warm up the planet, in healthy ways,  by offering endearments, loving family and friends, expressing our affection simply.

This is the thing — and we all have such a hard time of it — crossing over to each other, being warm, personable, gracious, expressing love, just saying it.

A friend called me today from the East Coast. He is a tough guy, military, big — but funny, and easy to relate to.  In an asside he said he thought there were piece of me all over the world, the people I have previously connected with.

Interesting. When he hung up he said, “I love you.”

I thought about it —  in Japan, South Africa, Nicargaua, England, Brazil, Maine, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, California — there are people who I have interacted with, with warmth, even if only briefly and so they are a small part of me, and me of them.

I wish there were more. I wish we all were open to more friends, more warmth, more connection, more talk, more love.

Hear is the deal: I need love, I want love, I crave love — we all do. And yet we all — including myself — suffer from some forms of isolationism, some vaious and sundry fears of each other, some relational cynicisms, some intrinsic shynesses and thus some cautiousness, some coldness, and therefore some lonliness.

What to do?

Love more. Simply choose to love more.

We can do this. We can reach out to each other. We can even get over our tendency to withdraw, to be cool, to be cold, in part, by making brave choices to love more people openly, freely, warmly,  affectionately.

While some old lovers cannot be regained, we can always seek out and find new friends — precious ones waiting in the wings — and we can tell them if we will, “I love you.”

This will warm up the place.

 

It looks a lot like Brian Williams, popular NBC News anchor has lied — which is not the best thing for someone trusted to report the news — and that then he lied about lying.

Why?

Why would a guy who makes ten million dollars a year and is super well-respected as a celebrity news anchor lie about taking fire in a helicopter in Iraq when it didn’t happen and then lie again by saying he misremembered the incident and accidentally tangled up the facts? It isn’t like he needs to make up accomplishments because he lacks accomplishments or affirmation — or does he?

Actually, perhaps the simplest explanation for Brian’s behavior is that he is needy, that he doesn’t feel complete, that he doesn’t feel good enough, that he is insecure about his reputation and his accomplishments. There is a good chance that wealthy Brian is hungry, for love.

Of course I could be wrong. Brian may just be a spoiled brat and a narcissist. But even if that is so, or a bit so, even such a condition as that may arise out of deprivation, from not really getting or understanding or living a life of real love.

This is so human its painful, and yet not. It is not unusual for a powerful man to be needy. Actually, I think Brian represents most all of us, whatever our status . He is somewhat insecure; he is hungry for love and attention.

In a way it’s helpful seeing him like this. It is enlightening. Fame and fortune don’t fill our tanks, not when we come into celebrity and wealth already on empty or even half-full. It is pretty much the thing with us that we never seem to get enough attention or valor or respect or love. We are all love hungry.

What to do?

What we need to do to avoid falseness, to not have to be the hero who took fire is to be fine with being needy and to make good friends with being non-heroic, at least a good deal of the time.

It’s okay to want valor that you don’t have, and it’s okay to be less accomplished than you are, but its also best to avoid lying to people who put their trust in you. It’s a really sad to lose people’s trust, and it definitely doesn’t do much for your reputation or your self-esteem.

For all or most of us, hunger for valor or simply for love will remain, but we can probably get a perfectly good meal now and again, just by being our selves.

The ranking is bronze, silver — gold.

And it is also faith, hope — love.

Not much beats gold, or love, as precious.

Love is the pure gold of God, and the summum bonum of life.

Many are the witnesses that love is supreme, and that without it we “gain nothing.” Love is everything — the core, the essence, the apex, the thing! All of our lives most of us have never wanted anything more than we have wanted to be loved. We ache for love, for falling in love, for being the loved one, for more delicious, life-giving, energy-making, life-curing love.

How do we get it?

Consider a young girl living in Missouri, who has never seen visited the ocean, any ocean, anywhere. She finds a picture of San Diego online. It is a beautiful shot, taken from the Coronado Bay bridge, showing the bay, the palm trees, the Silver Strand, the gorgeous Hotel Del Coronado and the great, sparkling Pacific beyond.

She holds her tablet, her 9.4 by 6.6 inch digital ocean in her hands and gushes, “I love the ocean!”

But there is so much of the ocean that she doesn’t know to love.

She doesn’t  know the knock-you-out, corner-of-eye to corner-of-eye,  panoramic expanse of the great Pacific, the lovely, blue watery arms of San Diego that shimmer like a dream land before you as you drive west up over the Coronado Bay bridge. And she doesn’t know the briny, salty, sea-in-the-air fragrance that greets you at the beach. And she doesn’t know the soft, clean, warm sand between the toes. She doesn’t know the cold, wet shock of the Pacific ocean as you enter it. She doesn’’t know the thrilling ride down the wave —  the rapid rush, the surfy slosh, the white water engulfing you.

To understand the ocean, and to understand love, we must live these realities not simply admire them from afar. To get love we must drive toward and into other people, and also God. We must experience the other, we must experience God, and we must sink our toes deep in to love, and then run to it’s shore, and dive in head first.

Reading about love in a book, even a sacred book, may be a gesture toward love, but it is no more love than looking at a picture of the ocean is experiencing the ocean.

To really know love, to experience love, to know the panoramic reality of love in all of life, to know the sweet fragrance of love found in difficult relationships, to know the warmth of love between your toes when you have been deeply valued, to know the cold shock of love being so much other than what you expected, to know the rapid rush of love as it washes you down the sloping, sliding, thrilling, scary waves of other people —  that is what it means to know love, and that is what it means to know God.

Love is good. Love is better. It is best. Love is best.

So, run at this. Smack this. Jump on this. Dive head-long into this.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

 

Randy HasperI didn’t see Carlos hit the old man, but he did, hard, right up side of the head, with his fist, and the old man bled just above his right eye.

When I went over to check things out, Carlos was looking dour. I could see that the world had gone down hard for him. Larry, who knows Carlos, told me that Carlos is homeless, living in his car and scrounging for every bite.

Carlos denied hitting anyone.  Then my friend John spoke up and said, “I saw you hit him,” and pointed to the old man.  But Carlos wasn’t to be pinned down, and seeing that his lie didn’t work, he said to all of us menacingly, “What I do in my family is none of your business!”

Tiffany, standing on the sidelines, spoke up, “I know about abuse, and it isn’t okay.”

I took my cue her. “We’re not okay with abuse and with violence at the church,” I said. I wasn’t sure what Carlos would do next, but whatever the outcome, I was acutely aware that the whole thing was brutal and sad, for the whole lot of us, standing there.

Then I told Carlos, “I don’t mean to disrespect you, but you need to leave,” and he did. I then turned to the old guy who got hit. “It’s nothing he said.”

“No, it’s not nothing,” I said. “It was wrong for him to hit you like that? Why did he do it?”

“He’s just like that,” he said.

I went and got some medical supplies and I wiped the guy’s cut, and I  put a bandage on him. It was only then that I noticed that he was shaking. He had played in cool, out of fear, at first, but now that the threat was gone I could see how horribly upset he was. He too was homeless. He told me that he was afraid that now Carlos would come get him. I suggested he move his camp. Then we fed him dinner, in the basement of the church, along with the hundreds of others who came for the meal.

Three times the guy who was hit came back to me before he left, and he thanked me for caring for him for standing up for him.

Then I got a plate of hot mashed potatoes and gravy and sat down with some older Hispanic ladies who lived near by in the Congregational Towers. They were super cute, and friendly with my daughter, who tried out some of her Spanish on them.

The food was exquisite, and the company too, except for Carlos, but he just needed a boundary drawn, and maybe he needed that more than a meal.

A grandma told me that recently when her granddaughter was at her house, and the little girl was jumping on the couch. she told her, “Please don’t do that.”

The granddaughter said, “No.”

So grandma said back to her, “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.” That settled that. Another boundary drawn, and so we civilize the world, protect our couches and our heads.

A little while later, the granddaughter asked for something and the grandma said, “No.”

The little one, two or three looked at her grandma, thought a moment, and said, “I not asking you; I telling you.” Grandma told me that she really had to try hard then, to keep from laughing.

We all need more, more boundaries, and more love too. Maybe no one told Carlos “No” enough when he was little. Maybe they told him too much.

On Sunday, Angelina came up to me. She put out her arms and gave me a hug.  She’s five.  Pretty soon she was back for another hug. I picked her up and gave her a big squeeze. I love Angelina. She looks like a little fire plug. Last year I sponsored her for Christmas and bought her a polka-dotted dress and a sketch a doodle. We’re good together.  She came back for a final hug before the morning was over.

Alex also came up to see me after church.  Alex is in his twenties. He has a learning disability.  “I’m getting baptized,” he told me proudly. Alex  has found a place, and some people, in our church, to make a little bit of a family out of, and be loved.

At the end of the morning Elizabeth came by. She too wanted a hug, and took three. Elizabeth is about fifty and learning how to make it on her own for the first time in life. She handed me a letter. “I just need to tell you how I’ m feeling she said, “I’m doing much better.”

We need more, more protection, more acceptance, more of a sense of belonging, more affirmation, someone to hug us, someone to read our letters, more love.

I wonder how Carlos is doing today?  What does he need? What put all that hate in him? What could take it out?  Not punishment. Not prison. Not rejection? Not religion.

I think that he just might need what we all need, more love.