LOVE OF NEIGHBOUR

Rock the Boat Now

ocean-2711971_960_720.jpg

          This past weekend, at a family get-together, I learned that the will of God is indeed a refuge in storms. My husband and I were confronted  with the choice between standing up for the faith, annoying people with our stand and perhaps creating a rift between family members and choosing to be silent to maintain peace, as well as not to be seen as over-reacting towards seemingly one-off dissents  against the Catholic faith.

          Trust me, it was far easier not to rock the boat. We were a close-knit clan and it didn’t seem wise to stir up unpleasantness – even if a family member was breaking the first Commandment of God – I am the Lord Thy God. Thou shall have no strange gods before Me. Besides, most other members had chosen the more agreeable response of respecting a personal choice than to respect God’s laws. It was all about freedom of choice. As long as we, my husband and I and our children respected God’s Commandments, why did it matter whether others did or did not?

          It did matter. Because, like it or not, we are our brother’s keeper.

          If it was about freedom, it was that I should be free to express without fear, my concerns for a Catholic who was increasingly distancing herself from the faith. And I should also be free to express my concerns about other family members who were choosing to look the other way on this issue just to keep the peace.

          Why shouldn’t I be free to respectfully articulate the Christian perspective on the issue at hand when our stand was questioned? Why shouldn’t I be free to ask someone to take a moment to think about what they were doing? Even if we were not Christians, if a loved one was moving apart from the family, wouldn’t we talk to the person? To ask the questions that needed to be asked? To express our fears, our concerns?

          Wouldn’t we do all that and more – whether within or outside the context of religion?

          And so, when we were faced with the choice either to speak up or to be silent, my husband and I said what we needed to say. Just calm, quiet statements. No badgering. No condemning. I don’t know if any other hearts will be steered to a different response in the days to come. I pray so, but that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Unless the Spirit moves my husband and I to speak up again, His Will for us now is that we pray.

          As we drove home from that family gathering, my heart and mind returned to what we had done, to the line we had drawn in the sand, and the lonely side we had chosen to stand on. Even if it were never raised in future gatherings, I am certain that line would forever stay between us, possibly as the first of more of such lines. In every pool of laughter and tender tightness of hugs, there will from now on be a shadow in many hearts because of our stand, because of this first line in the sand. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the sting of regret – not over what I had said – but over the necessary cut to this family I love.

          And yet, as I sifted through the pebbles of sadness, I realized a soft peace had spread over my heart. Even as I probed and prodded it, this gentle peace remained anchored firmly in place.

          That was when I understood. The Will of God is indeed a refuge in storms. We had done His Will this time. There was a price to pay for this obedience, for choosing the Will of God over the will of Man, but even as we paid it and hurt from doing it, He pressed His peace into our hearts.

         It is this peace that sealed the certainty in my heart that there are times when the boat of souls must be rocked. We cannot allow our hearts to be bribed by warmth of relationships and the worldly perception of peace to turn away from the bitter waters of God’s Will. If He stirs our spirits and gives us His words, then we must speak because He wants to speak through us.

          I can already sense a subtle chill in some of the winds as they coast over us. In a family that has always prided itself on maintaining respectful silence when disagreeing over an issue, we have broken ranks by choosing to speak.

          But true love of neighbor means that when the boat has to be rocked, it must be rocked.

 

 

 

 

         

Lent 17 ~ Spilling Sunshine

         Redwood-Forest-Wallpaper-D8W7O-800x600

          The kind of life we lead these days – the traffic chaos we navigate, the endless stress from deadlines and workloads, running the home, caring for the family, homeschooling, helping out at church, observing prayer times – the list of to-do’s never end. It’s probably worse for many others. This is the kind of life that has us running here and there, running lists through our heads. Almost every day, from our morning greeting of the day, would likely be about what we can accomplish this day, what can be crossed off those lists.

          I have that sort of life. My husband does too. And so do many we know. Yes, we get tons done. But something is often missing.

          Two days ago, on a sultry evening while the leaves thrashed restlessly in the hot breezes, I made up a batch of spicy fish cutlets. On a whim, I packed and sent some over, piping hot, to my next-door neighbour so she’d have one dish less to prepare for their dinner.

          The rest of the night sped past in a flurry of activities. I had been feeling tired before this but soon felt a new surge of energy. Despite the swelling heat, I felt contented at bedtime as I stood by my window, gazing out at a night sky fleeced in clouds, veiling distant stars winking slyly.

          Today, I read posts by a blogger, Jean, who holds sway at Molly’s Folks. There was one which caught my eye. A keen knitter and skilled at all things needle, she had made many little embroidered hearts, decorated with pretty baubles, and sent them out to various people. She could have sold them and made money off them, but she didn’t. They went to little girl homes. They went to the poor. They went to lives facing a bit of a chill.

          She was spilling little bits of sunshine here and there. Tumbling joy down where the cold sometimes never leaves.

          How often do I do that? I might do a lot for others, bring them the relief they need. But sometimes, we all need more than that. We need to know we are loved.

          We need that little dewdrop of gold sunshine, tumbled into a busy hour. We need that little goldpearl of love to be tucked into our weary spirits. We need that little tickle to turn us away from chills and heat for a while, to rest a bit in merry sunshine.

          We get that when others choose to love us more than their own selves. We get that when we choose to love others more than ourselves.

          That sudden lilt in my step that hot night was gifted me when I took time off to warm the heart of my busy neighbour. And I can imagine the delicious drizzling of joy in the spirits that received Jean’s love through her pretty handstitched hearts.

          We all need dimples of sun spilled into our everydays. When our Lent is so much to do with cleaning and cleansing, gifting love-through-joy where it is most needed can sometimes get buried beneath the busyness of our spirits.

          I’m going to try and spend more of my hours spilling sunshine into yearning burrows. Because the more tired our hearts get, the greater the need for sun~joys.