Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone. Read Mike Cope's post from Henri Nouwen about the true face of selfless love - and what it requires.

I don't have any profound or original meditations on love. It probably tops the most-written-about, most-talked-about, most-cried-about lists through the centuries. And as all of us know, it can cause real heartbreak at times. But love in its many forms has been the single most profound shaping influence on my life. And because of that I say: It is worth it.

I have been fortunate to grow up incredibly loved, first by my parents and sister, then by my extended family and church families and friends and teachers and so many others along the way. I spent two years off and on in a coffee house where the love between co-workers was as strong as our espresso. I spent a whole semester in Oxford learning what love in community means. I live with a darling little pixie named Bethany who is daily teaching me what gentle, forgiving, kind love is. For the past two years, I have been patiently and faithfully loved by an amazing man...with whom I finally get to spend a Valentine's Day today. :) And I have watched my church family rally around one another in authentic, persevering love through a hard year of loss and grief and questioning. The lament service a few weeks ago was among the most beautiful acts of love I've ever seen.

"To love anyone is to hope in him always," Madeleine L'Engle remembers in Walking on Water. And it's true. To love someone is to trust and hope that they are still growing, that they can continue to discover more about life and themselves and God, and who they are meant to be. To love is to stop categorizing, stop labeling, stop limiting. It means letting people be who they are, instead of who you wish they were - but not forcing them to remain always the same.

I really should get back to work - but will close with some lyrics from a song we sang last week at Come As You Are chapel:

How deep the Father's love for us!
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss!
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom!

Yes, this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom.


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