Saturday, June 13, 2009

Five Stories - Part I

Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one an another”. Love one another. Recently, I began wondering why we seem to take this “command” as if it were simply a suggestion. But while I was sitting in Starbucks yesterday afternoon, trying to relax and finish a book that I began reading a few weeks ago, my mind began to wander, as did my eyes. As I looked around the room, I started watching the people who were enjoying their coffee and engaging in various conversations. Everyone was drinking iced coffee drinks, signifying that summer had finally arrived, and after about 20 minutes of observation, I realized that there were 5 groups of people in the room. Five individual lives. Five individual stories existing in five separate, specific and secluded realities. “Love one another. “ Allow me to tell you about one of the five.
The first person that I noticed was an older woman who was talking with the barista and leaning on the counter. She was much older than me, had very weathered skin and a raspy voice. Probably a smoker, she was talking about how she had just had the first good night’s sleep in a long time, due to a new mattress that she had just aquired. After listening for a while, I began to realize that she was a victim of hurricane Ike, and was just starting to get her life back together again. She looked tired. She looked troubled. She looked lost. And although my heart really went out to her, I realized how isolated I felt from her. Here we were, sharing the same air, the same light, the same sounds and maybe the same brew of coffee, and yet we might as well be on opposite ends of the globe. “Love one another.” I love my wife. I love my two boys. But, how am I supposed to love a person that I know nothing about it?
A little later, she walked outside and sat by herself. Enjoying a smoke along with her coffee, she stared out into the parking lot, looking deep in thought. Not a peaceful contemplative type of thought, but a troubled and worried thought. The kind of thought where you wish you would just freeze time and live in this moment forever. You don’t want to leave the moment because reality is waiting for you just around the corner, and it’s not pleasant. I watched her from the window, but couldn’t bring myself to talk to her. I felt isolated and disconnected from her, and wondered how I could show the love of God to someone so distant. “Love one another.”
It’s interesting how our culture functions. Millions of people walk in and out of each others lives without so much as a second thought. We imagine our lives as being the center of the universe and elevate ourselves above others. But what if God had different plans for us? What if we were meant to engage each other as part of life’s natural rhythm? What if my observations in Starbucks are a flaw in how I perceive life? Should my observations rather be conversations?
Jesus said in Matthew 22, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” How is that possible when we find it so difficult to love ourselves? Many of us find ourselves either in the pits of self-loathing, or we are constantly striving to be someone that we’re not. We constantly attempt to improve ourselves inside and out, as if the imperfect always needs constant improving. Either way, we reject ourselves as incomplete, imperfect and flawed; as if God just didn’t get it right when He created us the first time.
“Love one another.” What does it mean to love one another? I’m not sure that I understand, and I’m not so sure that I am always capable. But maybe its more simple than we think. Maybe loving one another has less to do with a physical decision or action, and more to do with a spiritual connection. A divine encounter. Love one another.


Blasé said...

I like picking up hitchhikers (harlots/whores/prostitutes/hookers...human beings)...but my wife don't like it because she says they might "have a gun or something". So, I responded with "WWJD?". That didn't go over too well.

I have a few Christian Followers on my Blog. You would probably like 'Chatty Kelly's' Blog.

I enjoy stimulating folks to Think and Laugh...come and visit sometime.

Jake Kampe said...

Thanks for checking out the blog, my friend. I'll check out Chatty Kelly as well as your blog. Keep in touch. I try and update 1 per week. My last blog will be 5 parts.

Peace & Blessings!


MS Quixote said...

And yet, "the greatest of these is love." We need to figure it out in a hurry, Jake. It's fading fast, despite our ability to connect with others technologically like never before.

I'll be looking forward to your series with interest...