We wrestle with life - with life as we suppose it should be and how it is for us. As Theresa of Avila said, the Lord asked two things of us, that we should Love our neighbor and love God. She boiled it all down to the Great Commandments as many of us have. But the way she wrote about it in Let Nothing Disturb You, sears into my heart.
She asserts we may not be able to know if we Love God well, but we know if we Love our neighbor well or not.
As I look at the world this day, I see some love of neighbor and some hate of neighbor. I see some convoluted excuses for not loving others and bizarre reasons justifying unloving behavior.
The simple solution that has been offered us, that can bring peace, that can calm the troubled heart, has scarcely been employed.
Love has freedom in it. We can see our differences and accept them. Everyone is not required to be in lockstep with us. We can look at one another and seek to understand how it is in that person's journey.
We can begin by refraining to do anything hurtful. In that I mean actually hurtful, not the recent wimpy idea that other ideas than mine are hurtful and triggering, whatever that means (Actually, I think it's just a control mechanism of a sort of temper tantrum).
Then we can begin to explore loving our neighbor, relative, stranger. Eric Fromm in "The Art of Loving" had a list of four characteristics that has stuck with me for many decades. Care, respect, knowledge and responsibility. Briefly: Care, if you love another, you take care of them, if you say you love your cat but don't feed it, it cannot be said you actually love your cat; Respect, if you say you love someone, you must see them as they are, if they are allergic to asparagus, you must not give them a bushel of your favorite asparagus; Knowledge is learning and listening, discovering about this person and accepting them; Responsibility is responding to them appropriately, with honesty and compassion.
It takes courage, dedication and inner work to grow up spiritually, and to be able to know we can pass the simple test question - Have you learned how to love?
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