Wednesday, December 2, 2009

LOVE IN ACTION

All faith tradtions espouse the concept of giving to others, of helping others, of serving others.

We often hear amazing stories about the actions of Mother Therese or the Dalai Lama or other world renowned people who have been beacons of this concept of Love in Action and we might think to ourselves – if only I could be like that, if only I had that faith or courage – or, that’s fine for them, but I am not Mother Theresa.

The truth is that we are practicing Love in Action all the time. It is going on around us all the time – but we miss it because we are looking for the AMAZING story, the one that is in the newspaper or in inspirational articles.

Thank God we are not dependent on a handful of enlightened souls to give love in this world.

I was waiting for someone in the area of a big department store between the outside door and the inside door – for about a half an hour. Hundreds of people went in and out while I was standing there, and you would be surprised how many people were practicing Love in Action. And it was all in the simple act of holding the door for another. Young people and old people, men and women, most of them took that little moment to glance and see if someone was coming in or out behind them, and held the door for them. Stop sometime and notice the Love that is being given all the time around us.

Small actions like this are going all around us, and we don’t recognize them for what they are.

“Everybody can be great, because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree, you don’t have to make your subject and verb agree. You only need a heart of grace and a soul generated by love.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Every one of us is doing service or giving in some way almost all the time. Are we doing it in a consciousness of Love? Are we doing it as an expression of the divine?

How does Love translate into action? Last winter I facilitated a retreat on Divine Love and one of the exercises we did was conjure up the Faces of Love. What does Love look like? What does it look like to be loving?

Faces of Love: respect, joy, compassion, kindness, gentleness, listening, sincerity, mercy – like the many faces on one of those mirror balls you see in dance halls. As the ball turns it illuminates and touches all parts of the room.

Compassion
The Dalai Lama was talking to a monk who had escaped from Tibet after being imprisoned and tortured for many months. The monk said “I started to become afraid”. The Dalai Lama said – for your life? And the monk replied “I was afraid I would lose my compassion”.

Kindness
Mother Theresa gives us simple instruction – not give up your life and go to the other side of the world and live with the poor. She does not say that – she says “Spread love everywhere you go. Be a living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. Kindness in you warm greeting”. That is something we can all do.

“God has no hands or feet or voice except ours and through these he works.” Theresa of Avila

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians 5:13 he says: use your freedom to serve one another.

If we only get our perspective of the world by what we see on TV or the news – it could look bleak. We could think – what is the point? There is so much hatred and war and negativity.

Someone who was working with the Youth Gangs responded when an observer said – you know what you are doing isn’t enough – there is so much poverty and ignorance. And she said – “just because it is impossible, doesn’t mean you don’t do it”.

Every act of love, of kindness, of compassion, of service changes not only us but the world around us. We are always reaping what others before us have sowed. Thank those who have gone before us, whose small gifts to this world, make it a better place now. They did not know how or when ……the seed never sees the flower. Everything we do does make a difference!