By Mary Bridges, chaplain
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
When I think of February, love comes to mind. In today’s world, it is often hard to see love being shared. Anger and hate seem to be the feelings most often expressed all around us, and it is easy to find ourselves caught up in negativity. The Bible describes four types of love: storge or an empathy bond; phillos is a friend bond; eros is romantic love; and agape is “God’s Love” — unconditional. Love is used in these contexts and many others. In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul describes the characteristics of love.
My favorite Bible verse is “Mary pondered all these things in her heart.” I’ve been pondering how we can make our world kinder and gentler for future generations. I wish that I could have just one more conversation with my father. He may have only had an eighth-grade education, but he was the smartest and wisest person I have ever known. I was only 27 years old when he died. There are so many questions I never got to ask him, and I sometimes imagine conversations with him.
A few of my questions for him would be: Why is there so much suspicion and hatred in our country today? How can our lives reflect the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” What can we do to help make our world better? It might surprise you to know that in my made-up conversations with my father, he often answers me. The answers come from the memories of the short time we had together. His daily life reflected the Golden Rule. He loved people and respected everyone. He didn’t care which church they did or didn’t attend, what color their skin was or their political affiliation.
I began to question the difference between love and kindness, so I Googled the two words and found a plethora of opinions. According to the website Quora, “There is no difference. Kindness without love doesn't exist. Love without kindness is simply attachment — not love ... Love and kindness are the same internal feeling and impulse and they are both expressed by kind/loving acts.”
I would encourage all of you to take some time to ponder love and kindness. What do you think? Are they the same thing or are they different? Who have you known that embodied love and/or kindness? How can you reflect love and/or kindness in the way you live your life?
And what can we do to make our world a better world? Change begins with one small step. My challenge to each of you who live, work and visit SPM is to help us create a never-ending current of kindness in the river of life that spreads out to all those we meet and becomes the one small step that activates positive changes in our family, our community and the world.