Sunday, March 7, 2010
When I served in Peace Corps, I carried a conviction, even if I could not own up to it, that some of these volunteers—and some nearby nuns—could not possibly be as tender as they appeared to be. It is a ruse, and they will explode with snarliness or self-interest when the situation gets too tense. Yet they never did, even in the most wearisome of circumstances. This was true even when their best efforts at helping poor communities were thwarted at the last minute by others’ greed.
On the contrary, the more demanding and unfair the situation, the more these ordinary souls showed tenderness, tolerance, charm. It would have been understanda
If they were formidable forces—a title they would laugh at—it was not because they insisted but because they invited. You trusted them. You wanted to hang with them, whether it was for a round of tea or for a big project, because you knew that they must trust that things will work out. It would be years later that I would understand that the great value of working in extreme environment
It would be years later that I would understand that the great value of working in extreme environments is not what was accomplishe
d, but what was absorbed from those who seem to be grounded in love.
In her book, Holy the Firm, Annie Dillard writes: “Angels, I read, belong to nine different orders. Seraphs are the highest; they are aflame with love for God, and stand closer to him than the others. Seraphs love God; cherubs, who are second, possess perfect knowledge of him. So love is greater than knowledge; how could I have forgotten?”
Most of us earth-bound pilgrims can easily forget the proper order of things, but there seems to always be individuals nearby who ground us in ancient truths. We will not pick up on all their cues, and they will certainly not showcase their great insight. All we know is that we like to hang with them. We wonder how they maintain such tenderness in a world that seems to revel in crushing it.
We humans do not love well. Perhaps the temptation to put knowledge or other attractions above love is too great. But if there is any lasting lesson from Peace Corps that carries over into this health adventure, it is that even if we do not love well, we do it better than any other action. When I have to come off as knowledgeab
When I have to come off as knowledgeable, people will get hurt. That never works well. When it is vital that I be necessary, I will get in the way. When it is critical that I be outraged, I will get exhausted. When I have to be taken seriously, I become a burden. When I am overly suspicious of others’ sincerity, I am as useful as an Internet troll. But when I try to love, I will sometimes succeed.
But when I try to love, I will sometimes succeed. I will certainly absorb the goodness in others that before may have seemed too unbelievabl
A Jesuit companion scribbled in a get well card, "In the end, of course, its only love that will resolve everything, so let's keep practi
Love does not remove horrors. It does stop us from, at times, hurting people out of misplaced frustration.
The human love we receive is not always pure, welcomed, understood, or well-timed.
It takes time a lifetime to fully bear these beams. So we don't forget, some folk take 40 days each year to get re-grounded in this ancient truth. It is a prayer that we will place love as the formidable force of our lives.
-May my love be the primary motivation when making decisions.
-May my love be humble, helping me put others before self.
-May my love be courageous, not waiting for others to love me first.
-May my love be healing, not afraid to enter the world’s suffering.
-May my love be genuine, with no effort to persuade or manipulate.
-May my love be enduring, tolerating the ebbs and flows that accompany all relationshi
-May my love be holy, without limits, without preconditions, without scrutiny.
Fr. Pat Malone, S. J.