Sunday, August 23, 2015

Finding Someone To Love

Love and the fruits of love will remain.
-- Gaudium et Spes, n.39
It seems that in recent days I have noticed something in the people I meet, and in the things I read.  I noticed that there are some people looking for someone to love, and they often seem a bit lost, not knowing where to look, and perhaps even unsure it is a PERSON they seek, but yet they want someone (or something) to give their lives to; they seek a meaning or purpose for their lives.  I perceived, in a way, that they wanted to feel needed --- or wanted.
I also noticed what I consider a second group of people, small in number but still quite a few, who have found joy in loving someone.  They talk of the happiness in giving love, yes, but I guess I’ve noticed more, lately, that they are also willing to share how sometimes it is a burden to love --- but it’s one they willing bear.  Our culture talks about the “feelings” we get in love --- feelings seem to be a priority in the news today --- but the people I am describing instead talk about the people they love; they talk about how important these people are, and how important it is to love them, and how they make it their priority to love them.
And lastly, I’ve been noticing a third group of people.  In a way, they are somewhat like the first group --- perhaps they even are some of the first group:  they are the people needing love.  And sometimes, sadly, they are not even aware of it.  They are alone, unloved for so long, that they feel this is normal.  On one extreme, these are those people who are “different” --- physically, mentally, or even spiritually --- and are shunned by society.  On the other extreme are those who choose to separate from society:  they’ve never ever experienced love, or have experienced it and found that it can hurt --- and they are afraid of being hurt again.  They can’t become like the first group, looking to change their future; they can’t seem to let themselves make it a priority.
Love is described as a giving on one’s self to another, of saying to the other: “You are important.”  A Christian might describe love as “seeing the Jesus in my neighbor.”  St. Paul talks about all the virtues love exhibits, and the troubles it willingly bears.  Relative to those troubles, St. Rose of Lima says Jesus spoke to her and said: “Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation” --- and all sufferings done for love, as His were, yield “unfathomable treasures of grace.”
But back to the purpose of these words, the examples I have been noticing of late.  Of the first group, I’ve seen the seekers:
·         The man whose girlfriend dumped him feels lost.  A Christian, he resists the culture’s sexual excesses and self-love focus --- or so he thinks --- as he spends his free time on his boat, patiently waiting for God’s call.
·         The newly-retired friend whose golf game I expected to improve this summer offered this excuse:  “I started out the summer playing more, but it just didn’t seem important.  Then I heard that Angela Hospice needed volunteers, and I feel so very important again:  what I am doing really matters.”  He found someone new to love.
·         And there was another friend who, upon hearing the above one’s story, said: “I retired and was quickly bored also, so I went back to work.  My employment contract will be up in a year and then,” he said with tears in his eyes, “I want to talk more with you guys about what’s important, and people who need me.”
·         There was another man who, joining a conversation about how there doesn’t seem to be enough time for “God-things” in our lives said:  “Even when I get home after a long day’s work, I can rarely rest.  My kids are always right there when I walk through the door, wanting to do something with me --- and you know what, I do it; always!  That’s my God-thing, my time for God, loving these blessings He gave me, even when they seem a burden.  It’s what I choose to do, for them, and for God.”  And some of the other complainers in the group were humbled.
These are just some of the people who, I noticed, were seeking (and perhaps finding) someone to love, or who yearned to love.  But about the others, who need love:  It seems a goodly number of them have caught my attention also --- as are some of the people seeking to answer their need:
·         A study showed that only 17% of young adults with autism had ever lived outside their parents’ homes.  In Pennsylvania, a group of people saw the need and are building the nation’s first apartment complex to mix individuals who want to love them with higher-functioning autistic adults, who need a special love.
·         In Michigan, an organization focused on developmentally disabled children saw them aging, and noticed growing numbers of older adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s who require care not unlike the children they cared for, and so they began expanding the reach of their caregiving commitment --- and their use of volunteer caregivers, people seeking to love those most in need of loving care.  Those who loved, found they could love even more, using the talents God gave them to expand the organization.
·         News headlines tell us of the silent cries of unborn babies torn apart for their parts, and laughed at in their sufferings.  My niece texted me from Arizona about a protest she attended:  “Very hot, but I am so glad I went.  A 16 year-old boy gave an amazing speech.  Many tears.  Many prayers are being said today.”  Love needed and people (including my dear niece) wanted to love.  And it felt good.
·         And I also recalled an event of my past, a call to me from someone needing love:  the assisted-living facility where I did a Communion Service each Sunday was opening a new building for those with worsening dementia or Alzheimer’s --- it would be a lock-down facility.  The week before its opening one of my Sunday communion regulars told me she was being transferred to the new building.  With tears in her eyes she asked:  “Could you come there also --- please?”  And I will never forget the image which flashed in my mind: of a young, innocent Oliver Twist holding out his food bowl and asking:  “Could I have more --- please?”
Parents of developmentally disabled adult children were asked their greatest fear for their children.  Their answer:  that if they died there would be no one there to take care of their children.  There would be no one to love them.
In nursing homes, among shut-ins, in hospice facilities, among those with autism, dementia, and Alzheimer’s and among “special needs” children, there are so many people yearning to be loved, needing to be loved.
In this culture so concerned with “feelings” many people “feel” some lives are not worth living.  In Oregon, with the state’s blessing, those with lives deemed not worth living are encouraged to commit suicide.  In all states extensive fetal testing identifies babies which “might” develop some illness or “might” have some defect, and parents are encourage to abort them, because no “feeling” person would want their child be born to suffer; better to kill it.
People; all lives involve suffering!!
And yet what do these “feeling” people do when confronted with those who are or become the weak or the suffering?  It is my experience that more and more they turn away, or turn to the government “to address the problem.”  I see this so often in families where only one of the siblings is left to care for mom or dad in their old age, while the others are “too busy” --- busy loving themselves first of all.
Don’t be a “feeling person” who doesn’t care.  All the commandments and Gospels can be summarized in this:  Choose to love.  Make it a priority; there are so many who need love, YOUR love.
Finding someone to love will make your life whole, because God will be with you there.
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We recognize Christ as the Light of the World, and perhaps we sometimes wonder if anything we do can really matter, but we forget that in the darkness even the smallest light can show the way.  If we want to find someone to love; if we want to make a difference with our life; we must look in the darkness.
As I entered church this morning, I lit my usual small candle at the foot of the statue of Mary, and prayed to be a small light in the darkness.  And then the Morning Prayers I read seemed to speak to me with a new volume:
Holy Spirit, you impart
Gifts of love to every heart;
Give us light and grace we pray,
Fill our hearts this holy day.
Father, creator of unfading light, give that same light to those who
to you.  May our lips praise you;
our lives proclaim you goodness;
our work give you honor.

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