31 Days of Paying Attention — Day Six

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The week before my husband and I attended that retreat for retired pastors/spouses, I was given the gift of two days away at a Catholic retreat center in Sierra Madre, California. It is one of my favorite places to go to be quieter than usual, to think more deeply than usual, to absorb some of the beauties offered by our Catholic sisters and brothers, beauties which always encourage me to pay attention to my life.

This retreat house is owned and operated by the Passionist Order, which was founded by St. Paul of the Cross. This is how they describe themselves on their American website: 

The Passionists are a global order of Roman Catholic priests, brothers, nuns, sisters and laity who proclaim God’s love for the world revealed through the Passion of Jesus Christ. Founded in 1741, today we continue to carry a message of compassion and hope to 59 countries throughout the world.

It is a place of great beauty — I wrote a photo essay about one of the gardens on their grounds here. Another spot on those grounds had four lovely granite pillars engraved with the names of a long list of donors. Interspersed throughout that list were some thought-provoking quotes from their founder and I took pictures of several of those. I’ll be interspersing them throughout this series, challenging myself to think about them more deeply — paying attention to the words and the thoughts behind them. Here is the first one:

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Do you believe this? Do I? Oh, I hope so! Because I think it is one of the most deeply true sentences ever written. Love is the best teacher in the world. It is at the heart of creation, at the center of the gospel, and is the distillation of everything Jesus came to do, to teach and to be. According to him, LOVE is the greatest of the commandments — love of God, love of neighbor and love of self. 

Why then, do so many of us who call ourselves Christ-followers engage in so many un-lovely, un-loving actions, words and thoughts? Perhaps because of what I wrote in the paragraph just above this one — because it is at the center of who we are called to be. Staying centered in love requires vigilance, humility, honesty, patience and openness. And our enemy knows exactly how to derail us as we seek to follow after Jesus. Bigotry, cruelty, and all the isms you might care to list are tools in that Enemy’s kit and WOW, do we let him have a field day in our deepest selves.

My prayer today, and every day, is for more love. I pray for an interruptor — an inner Voice to call me back, again and again, to who I am called to be, who I am designed to be: one who lives loved first, and then one who lives love.

That’s where it has to start, with living loved. If I forget — even for an instant — that God loves me, cherishes me, delights in me — then I am vulnerable to the crippling self-doubt and self-hatred that fuels so much of the vitriol that is flooding our world. When I do not stand tall in the truth of my own belovedness, then I am unable to live love out in the dailyness of my life. 

More love, Lord. More trust in the truth of who I am. More ability to live in the center of that truth in ways that reflect my Jesus.

 

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Comments

  1. Deanne Moore says:

    Such rich truth, my friend. As I finished reading this, the Holy Spirit brought to mind a passage that I had to look up in Matthew 24:10-13 about the end of days when love grows cold. It gave me a shiver. May God’s love continue to burn with intensity in the hearts of his people during these often chilling days upon the earth.

  2. Elaine Byer Reed says:

    Yes, you have said it so well. Love is the foundation of our relationship with God and others. I don’t think differences in theology are very important. If there is a question, I think one first asks does it show God’s Love. The church in which I grew up, seemed to emphasize rules over Love–at least to me as a child.
    I still feel like I have a long way to go to feeling His Love for others. But I am learning. Thanks for centering on this most important aspect of God.

  3. Margie Bicknell says:

    Love should be where we stand when confronted by anger, fear, discouragement, and hope lost. Love should be there when we are hurt or disparaged or defeated.
    The only way we can understand love is to come to the understanding that GOD first loved us. Full Stop! No if, ands, or buts; no “I will love you if, when”; no ‘when your good enough, or do enough, or give enough’.
    But many have never had this unconditional love shown to them…..your words are so important to hear again and again….Christ died with his arms stretched wide to forgive and include us all. He loved so that we could all be redeemed, that is the love we need to hold onto and then open those hands to give it away.
    Thank you, Diana, for this reminder to love.