Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Love Is . . .

in first corinthians 13, st. paul lists several qualities of love, and i try to remind myself of those qualities each morning.  in this new year, i've been journaling about those qualities.  this morning i want to share what i've written in my "love journal" about the two positive attributes the st. paul lists: patience and kindness.  there are "off the top of my head" entries in my journal, and my thoughts are not fully formed.  if you have suggestions or comments that will help me or someone else understand what one means when one says, "love is patient, love is kind," i would be happy for you to help me and others to grow in patience and kindness.

love is patient:  love is willing to wait, to live life unhurried.  love doesn't seek instant gratification, but puts aside the lust for things in favor of being in the present and enjoying what is already in and around us.  love doesn't expect others to recognize what we need and supply it.  love doesn't have unrealistic expectations of others, but cherishes them for who and what they are without wishing to make them something that satisfies one's own needs.  because love is patient, love is accepting and therefore bears all things.

love is kind:  may we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  may we think first before we act, asking ourselves, "is this the way i wish to be treated?"  if we lived with such mindfulness, how much suffering we would refrain from visiting upon others, how many evil deeds would cease, how many good deeds would be performed.  how well our country would run if those in power imagined themselves in the shoes of those affected by the laws they enacted before voting on laws that harm others and take away their rights.  if employers put themselves in the place of their employees, would those employers resent providing a living wage or health insurance to their employees?  if teacher imagined themselves in the seats of their students, would they treat those students disrespectfully, and if students placed themselves at the desks of their teachers, would they misbehave and resent the authority of their teachers?

the essence of kindness is putting oneself in another's place, of seeing that all of us are essentially the same.  when we are treated with cruelty, and unkind actions and words are directed against us, may we try to react in the way we wish to be treated rather than responding in like manner.  may unkindness stop with us.  may our words and acts be mindful, without any attempt to repay unkindness with unkindness.

i am working on comments about the characteristics st. paul lists next, all of the next group stated in the form of what love is not.  what i hope to accomplish is to refrain from simply restating what was written so long ago but rather to become mindful of the underlying meaning.  may this effort help me to grow in understanding, to become a more loving and lovable person.  may we all work together to love others and to love ourselves.  shalom.

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