Oh, but this world is such a hard place to live, by times. Such a difficult place to be and to dwell. Here, it is often dark and heavy. Overwhelmingly sad. Our hearts can hardly bear the loads we carry. And how often in the busy hustle and bustle of our days do we forget our lifelines? Do we forget to pray? Forget to love? Forget to focus on the positives? To see the world as it really is- not just as we think it might be?
How often do we forget to be grateful for the small joys we have been given?
In the morning rush- which happens to also be a late start to the day (due to me sleeping in past my alarm), I find the brief moments to catch the Island Morning News human interest story about an eleven year old girl from Summerside, PEI, along with a cohort of her friends, who did random acts of kindness for unsuspecting strangers in lieu of receiving birthday gifts. A beautiful story. One that I am glad I was within earshot to hear and consider. In the story, an elderly woman happened to be shopping in a grocery store in Summerside, P.E.I. when the group of children surrounded her, holding out a ticket-like card. She thought they were selling her something, but soon came to discover they were actually GIVING her something: a fifty dollar gift card. So inspiring. I can only imagine what possibilities lie ahead for children with hearts full of such love and joy as this.
A child shall lead the way.
Later this evening, I happen upon news coverage in the form of articles and blogs about the Ferguson trial and unfolding tensions, along with opinions from either side. This- a depressing, heart-breaking unfolding story of division, anger, racial tension and frustration. I can only imagine what is to come next if something is not done to address the rising pressure with regards to the results of the verdict.
And with these two extreme stories in mind, I am left wondering: what does the world need right now?
There is only one thing we cannot do without, only one emotion that encapsulates it all. And that word is LOVE. Love found through the purest source- that of a Father’s love for a broken world.
If what the world needs right now is love, then it goes without saying that we need more than mere random acts of kindness for strangers- some of whom are benign and neutral, and thus non-threatening to us, as wonderful as these acts might be. And I of all people would be the first to say: let children lead the way to greater understandings about love. But with that in mind, what we also gravely need is random acts of kindness aimed at and designated for our enemies. For those we naturally HATE.
Spreading love, one act at a time for people who do not threaten us or challenge our sense of character is kind and truly wonderful, but it requires little more than our time and a small monetary sacrifice. Showing kindness to those we naturally detest requires far more- it necessitates a shift in thinking. A 180 degree turn in direction. For those people whom we would rather choose to ignore, disregard, discount, snub, overlook, turn our backs on, loathe, dislike and otherwise abhor- they are the ones whom we really should be testing our love against. Loving our enemies is far harder than loving friendly strangers. What the worlds needs now is a huge flood of love to pour over us, washing us clean- replacing the anger with fresh perspective. Replacing the hatred with respectful care.
Recently, I read of two women who were on opposite sides of the Ferguson debate- both strongly identifying with one or the other groups that are visibly representing this story. Both of whom were feeling anger at each other for the strong feelings induced by the combatative banter between them on social media. After a short time had passed, one woman said to the other woman, “If you agree to pray for the person/peoples I identify with- whom you strongly feel are in the wrong, I will agree to pray for the person/peoples you identify with.” And both agreed to exchange talk for prayer.
Here is what one of the women wrote about that experience from a note she calls a ‘love note to the world’– and I think it sums everything up:
As a result (of this)– my heart has opened to all. My heart is a wide, wide door this morning. My entry point is all of us. That is the point of prayer maybe- not only to change the world but to change our hearts so we have new eyes with which to see the world. We can’t just TALK and DO. We have to be still first and stay open and listen so we know what to say and do.
I think that choosing the “side” you identify with the least, and making them the focus of your prayers is as close to God as we can get.
Don’t just pray for the ones you love easily- pray for the ones you want to love. It works. It works.– Glennon Doyle Melton
Yes indeed. We must pray for the ones we want to love- along with praying for the ones we do. And give to the ones we want to care about as well as give to the ones we do. Doing what doesn’t come naturally. For it’s the only way for change to really happen, a change that begins with transforming our hearts. And that change will allow LOVE to grow and flourish within our hearts- the very place that matters more than anything.
What is required of us is to keep our hearts open.
Let love fall like rain.