GPS for the Soul Week 5
Week 5 Reflection:
A “saint” is said to be someone who allows the light to shine through. My friend Anna tragically lost her father this year. He was an exceptional man with a smile that made you feel all would be well. Anna’s dad was a doctor and his final wish for his daughter was to carry his torch and help people in need. Grieving, Anna decided to let the light shine through her. In my phone, her name comes up as, “Anna: Superhero for Covid.” For the last four months, she has helped hundreds of people navigate the quagmire of getting vaccinated against Covid, with no financial gain or recognition. Anna sits in front of her computer screen searching every county in the state for open slots to sign up first responders, teachers, ministers, individuals over the age of 60 and people with underlying medical issues. Most recipients will never know this “saint” who touched their lives.
Anna is part of the domino effect of Love set off by Jesus who was not shy about how to accomplish lives of value and significance. He gave us the secret to salvation now and forevermore. We must love beyond ourselves!
If this year has taught us anything, it is how difficult, unpredictable, and downright scary it can be to be human. It has also taught us the remarkable capacity of love to more than see us through. We were never meant to manage this holy responsibility on our own. Jesus said over and over again—take care of one another.
The mystic poet Wendell Berry said it beautifully:
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
to the lasting world
and will not leave,
When we wake up and see ourselves in others and others in ourselves—we can’t help but want to do everything in our power to safeguard their well-being, help them make their way, gift them with peace and the possibility of joy— because we desperately want the same for ourselves. Frederick Buechner said it best: “A saint is a life-giver. A human being with the same sorts of hang-ups and abysses as the rest of us, but when they touch your life, you become alive in a new way.”
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus spells out our mission: “Come! Inherit the kingdom! For when I was hungry, you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me. Truly, I tell you, just as you did it to the least of these, those whom I love, you did it to me.”
In the 18th century, the German Romantics originated a concept of human transformation which they called “Bildung.” They proposed one could actually expand the soul by doing acts of love. In this same view, Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica believed the goal of the human creature was to be magnanimous; to meet the world with a large soul committed to doing great things for the common good.
Every morning before my kids get out of the car for school, I say: Make this day count! Do something kind for another. The truth is it doesn’t matter what action or offering: a homemade soup, a warm coat, an assuring smile, a listening ear, a word of encouragement. The day counts if your light shines through and you make a fellow traveler feel seen, lifted—loved. We are God’s stewards of grace here on earth (1 Peter 4:10).
The great irony in the process of saving others, we actually save ourselves.
Week 5 Prayer:
This week, be inspired by Meister Eckhart’s poem, “Love Does That,” found in Daniel Ladinsky’s treasure of a book, Love Poems from God:
All day long a little burro labors, sometimes
with heavy loads on her back and sometimes just with worries
about things that bother only burros.
And worries, as we know, can be more exhausting
than physical labor.
Once in a while a kind monk comes
to her stable and brings
a pear, but more
he looks into the burro’s eyes and touches her ears
and for a few seconds the burro is free
and even seems to laugh,
because love does that.