Soaking Up Love
This week has the most popular scripture passage for weddings! “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous, it is not pompous.” We have all heard this reading so many times, it might be easy to gloss over. But it does offer a challenge in how to love. In your friendships and family relationships, do you embody love by being patient, not jealous, not seeking your own interests, not quick tempered, not brooding over past wrongs? Have you ever experienced this before, from someone else? I think it is pretty rare. This love, discussed in the Letter to the Corinthians, sets a high bar for love in human relationships. It is because the source of this love is divine.
This reading also reminds us love is primary in how to be a Christian. All the other acts of faith pale in comparison to embodying love. Paul writes about speaking in tongues, being a prophet, comprehending all the mysteries, having faith, giving away everything – doing all these acts of faith “but if I do not have love, I am nothing.” This is a reminder that loving is not “doing” in relationship, it is a way of being.
So how do we embody love? How do we reach the quality of love that Paul speaks about in his letter to the Corinthians? In order to embody love in our relationships, we have to access the source of love, God. It is easy to forget that God is always present within us in the Holy Spirit, and always accessible, at any moment of the day. Lately, I have been reading about Centering Prayer, a form of Christian contemplation made popular by Thomas Keating. The basic premise is that God is available to us, and that we just have to pay attention. Centering prayer involves using a “sacred word” to continually return to the practice of resting in God. This means imagining the Holy Spirit within us and imagining being enveloped in divine love, and “being” in God. This form of prayer involves allowing ourselves to soak up God’s love, be showered in it, allow it to hold us and penetrate us.
Receiving God’s all-encompassing love, allowing ourselves to fathom it, can be a way to fill ourselves up, and have us experience this love that Paul speaks about. Once we know we are loved and we are filled up, we can let it pour through us to others in our lives. Then, we might have moments where we can embody the love that Paul speaks of.