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Love is the word. Love makes the world go ‘round. And then there’s that commandment to love one another.

But what does love mean? And what exactly did Christ’s word really mean? How can we love everyone?

My brother Mike and I sat with our spouses and dozens of other people, all strangers, in the happy, busy, buzzy atmosphere of Abeulo’s in Myrtle Beach Friday night discussing the above questions. Our appetites sated and our moods elevated, we began talking about the homeless, the tired, the needy and what our responsibility was to them.

“We’re supposed to love everyone,” Mike said, not in a preaching way, just stating a reminder of something the four of us already knew, and he and I began to toss thoughts and feelings back and forth. I said my heart hurt as I thought of the Syrian refugees, especially the mothers and those little children. They’re as “precious in His sight” as my own grandchildren who had the good fortune to be born in America to parents who love them.

Did we come to a consensus or vow to devote ten percent of our time and money towards aid for the less fortunate? No. In fact, the only things we agreed on were (1) charity begins at home and we need to be more loving and kind to the people we live with and (2) we need to ponder Christ’s words and their implication for our lives.

Later that night I recalled Aaron Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love. There are several kinds of love, including one called plain old “liking,” but the ideal love is consummate love. Consummate love is comprised of intimacy, passion, and commitment and is an ideal towards which many aspire. Not everyone is fortunate enough to experience consummate love, however, and even if it were possible, it’s not the type of love one can feel towards everyone.

I’ll spare you the rest of my pondering about Sternberg’s theory and its application to Christ’s commandment. It’s quite interesting and something you can easily find and read more about online. What popped in my mind as I was thinking of Sternberg is something a former colleague of mine quipped one afternoon as some colleagues were chatting about an office romance. The chatter turned into a heated discussion as people began to actually take sides. This is going nowhere I thought and was about to leave when someone said, “There are a lot of ways to love, Folks. People love how they can.”

There are a lot of ways to love, Folks. People love how they can. What I love (there’s that word again) is that it cuts right to the chase and, without embellishment or hifalutin theories, speaks volumes. I can’t take everyone home to raise or join the Peace Corps or round up all the homeless people or love people who abuse children. I can’t. But I can love how I can.

Saturday afternoon I parked my car toward the back of the parking lot at HomeGoods in Myrtle Beach. After I turned off the ignition, I read a couple of texts and was in the middle of responding to the second one when someone thumped on the passenger side window. Momentarily startled, I looked around to see a face (no description because of the situation) that I perceived as non-threatening, so I lowered the window.

“Hello, Ma’am. Don’t be afraid. I’m harmless. My name is ____________, and I’m a Vet who hasn’t been able to find a job no matter how hard I’ve tried, and I just need some money for a meal. Can you help Old _________ out?” All of this was delivered in one long string while I stared at her, recalling the conversation of the night before. I found the change purse my husband had bought me as a souvenir in Denali on a land/sea cruise we lucky ducks had taken and rummaged through it until I found a ten dollar bill. I gave it to the kindly-looking, well-spoken, middle-aged woman standing at the window, and off she went.

Was I crazy to have done that? She wasn’t dirty, disheveled, or lean—just the opposite. She asked, I gave. No questions asked.

If Mike is reading this, my answer to our questions Friday night is that you (all of us) love how you can.

 

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Children

If you’d spied my sister and me in Chick filA one afternoon last week, you’d probably think we were just a couple of “older ladies” enjoying a meal together, perhaps sharing anecdotes about our children or reminiscing about the past. We did a little of that, but we also had a serious discussion about cafeteria religion, the kind in which people take what works for them and conveniently ignore the rest. Examples abound. I’m familiar with them because I practice that type of religion myself. Just about everyone does, even those who think they’re nearly perfect.

Here are just a few examples of cafeteria religion that we discussed.

*There are those who say keep the Sabbath holy, but then they justify dining out, shopping, or going to the movies. I know because I’ve done this before. “I deserve to go out to eat because I work so hard during the week, and Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest (for me, that is…not necessarily for those working in restaurants).”

*Then there are those who give lip service to “love one another” but they look down their noses at people of a different social class, skin color, or ethnicity. They might even put their homes on the market if one of those people move in down the street..or horrors, next door!

*And let’s don’t forget those who give enormous sums of money to their churches, even exceeding the ten percent tithe, but they’re hateful, rude, and snarky to the people who work for or with them.

*There are those who “tsk tsk” those who are have fallen away from the straight and narrow and completely ignore the “judge not” instruction.

I hope this isn’t coming across as an accusatory blog. It’s just that I heard an excellent talk in church in Myrtle Beach a couple of weeks ago that fit perfectly into the cafeteria religion conversation that my sister and I had, and I can’t get the talk out of my mind. The speaker read the account (John 20:17) of Christ’s words to Mary Magdalene after He was resurrected. “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

To me, the connotation is that God is His  father and her  father and even our  father. Our father is not just the father of Southern Baptists but also Jews and Buddhists and Hindus. He even loves the atheists and agnostics. In fact, perhaps he has a special love and concern for them. Who knows? None of us can really presume to know the mind of God. We are His creations and not His equals.

That’s it,  my musing for the day. I, like you, have issues and am sometimes guilty of picking and choosing which commandments and/or guidelines I want to follow. What about you?

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