I know there is a Fitbit 2 in my stocking, and I cannot wait until tomorrow when I will get to strap it to my arm and go for a run through the Rimutaka Forest, near where I’ll be spending Christmas in New Zealand. As always there’s a lot of talk of gifts at the moment, and this afternoon I realized something interesting around gifts and love. Over the past weeks I’ve had one of most referenced quotes from spiritual writings running through my mind continuously:
Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these is love.
What I’ve found interesting, is that it seems like we’re not the only ones centered on gifts: the author of 1 Corinthians places this little adage in the midst of two rather heavy chapters focusing on gifts. Not however, the gifts we receive, but how’re we each uniquely gifted to build up others, and make a difference in this world. But even one thing trumps these various gifts – and that is the ability to love. In circles of faith(s), often the conversation is centered upon truth – and sadly often the monopoly thereof. I’m a little tired of these conversations, and as much as they worry me, what worries me most is when love is a commodity that we can no longer afford.
Perhaps that’s why I love the Christmas story: for me at it’s heart, it’s a message of Deity seeing the need for love and unity, and deciding to jump into the mess, and be tangibly what love in action looks like. Spiritual devotion, at it’s most pure, leads to love of the other. I love song writer Ben Cantelon’s simple wording of this: ‘love came down’.
In Practicing the Presence of People, author Mike Mason, wrote rather astutely:
People really are moving around – not just on the legs but in their souls. People are less like stationary stones than like rivers, always flowing, changing from one moment to moment. The best way to see people is to jump into the river with them and form relationships. Then at least we are moving together. This is what relationships are: people in motion together. Only as we move together does it become possible to find stillness.
Here’s to finding stillness through connection – and being willing to take the effort that this requires. At the end of the day faith means holding onto the fact that ultimately, life is not only about me. Hope means that there can be meaning in the midst of some of madness that ensues. And love… love means piecing these two together, and reminding myself of the sacred calling to get my hands and feet dirty, by delighting in the gift of the people around me. By going. By loving. My hope is that 2017 may bring a fresh reminder of this to me, and to those whom I love.
* My image and edit, jumpers Kristy & Otto, at Castle Point, New Zealand