The Re-Creation Center

Untitled design-97

When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world — no matter how imperfect — becomes rich and beautiful, it consists solely of opportunities for love.
Søren Kierkegaard

I have been lifting weights for over two years at the Longmont Recreation Center. I go on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on my better weeks and I’ve developed some good friendships. We have our proverbial water cooler chats over weight benches and dumbbells. Some days we’re up, other days we’re down. The bank of television sets spouting news from ESPN to NBC grab our attention as we roll our eyes or pump our fists depending upon the day. When our current president was inaugurated I did my first two pull ups in thirty-plus years. And depending on life and the morning drive tuned to NPR, some of us do better than others.

This week on Monday we discussed the pending midterm elections. I wondered aloud how the mood would shift on Wednesday depending upon the results. My wise friend Eric looked at me and said, “Does it matter? Does our job change? What is this all about anyways?”

“Love,” I said

Apparently I got the answer right because he stopped peppering me with questions while boring holes into my soul.

Love.

The last thing I want to do is minimize the impact our current administration has had upon our American fabric. The white nationalism, the fear in the eyes of my friends of color, the terrible concern of my LGBTQ friends, the weeping of the mothers for their daughters – none of this is acceptable nor is it welcome in a country that claims Christianity as its bedrock. This administration is terrible for the vulnerable among us.

But we’ve learned something haven’t we? If truth sets us free, we are closer to freedom. The truth of our national reality is harsh but we can no longer claim ignorance.

And so, on this Wednesday, the day after the midterm elections, our work remains. We can never – we must never – forget the most powerful word that is ours: Love.

Is love the easiest thing you’ll ever do? Yes.
Is love the hardest thing you’ll ever do? Yes.

Love is not linear, nor is it sensical. Love is subversive and obvious, clear and nebulous, tender and fierce, honest and discerning.

Many believe that resorting to love is giving up. I contend, resorting to love is the best choice all the way around.

Love demands we discover a third way. Love demands an obvious creativity, imagining  new ways to be generous and compassionate. Love asks that we look outside ourselves for answers.

The way of love is the way of the Spirit. She is tough to pin down, ebbing and flowing with the tide of hope and truth and surrender. She shows up when you least expect it, but you have to be open for her, ready to receive her inspiration.

This Spirit-filled love is fire, consuming the hate and confusion and snarky judgement. The Spirit-filled love knows. She discerns. She will not waste her precious energies and resources on an unreceptive host. She will not cast pearls to pigs. She is efficient and industrious, flowing in and through, around and beyond.

The Spirit-filled love is justice. She knows the first are last, the big are small, and the oppressed are the righteous. She knows the powerful will be brought low and the hungry will be filled to overflowing. She knows the confident will be rendered afraid, and the afraid will know they are secure in Her arms.

She fills us with Her fire. As we freely give we will freely receive. Her generosity is abundant, limitless. Our souls will be filled, passing the gift on and on and on. There is not a mountain high enough or valley low enough where she will not find the hungry, lonely, frightened.

I want to know this love. I want Her to fill me with Her fire. I want to receive Her love and I want Her love to flow through me to you and to you and to you and to you.

Today we woke up to the results. And true to form while lifting dumbbells some of us were up and some of us were down. But what flowed in our recreation center space was the re-creation of beauty, the re-creation of hope, the re-creation of working it out, the re-creation of love.

The Spirit’s love flows beyond elections and this nation and this world. She will not be contained and as we speak she bubbles up from the ground. And if you can still yourself long enough you might hear her whisper. I love you.

May we listen.

Small is the New Big

Untitled design-96

Earth is crammed with Heaven,
and every common bush afire with God,
but only he who sees
takes off his shoes.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Last week we saw the truth of what we have become. Multiple incidents of racist and extreme violence perpetrated, rendering current and former leaders threatened by bombs, two people of color killed in Kentucky, and eleven Jewish worshippers gunned down in Pittsburgh. It was a culmination of fear, an uprising of conspiratorial rhetoric resulting in bloodshed and terror.

And next week we have an election. Groundbreaking turnout is already being reported throughout our nation, people on both sides with vehement belief that their’s is the right side. I voted early. My ballot is received and accounted for. While I recognize the importance of my vote and voice, I didn’t know the magnitude and impact of my small act until now.

How do we grieve last week and await next week?

How do we be in this messy middle?

It seems to me all I’ve got is love. All of it, every tiny scrap of it, boils down to love.

As a person of great privilege, I have resources and power I can leverage. I have a family and a job, but I also have flexibility. I’ve got time. I have time to linger on a run. I have time to meet friends for coffee. I have time to ask my children about their days when I drive them around. I have time to bake a cake. I have time to study a book with friends. I have time to watch a show before bed. I have time to write.

I have time to love.

My friend and I ran early this week, catching up on our thoughts and impressions of last week’s events.  On the last few turns, winding through the neighborhood, we took note of the dipping temperature. A storm was blowing in. A woman with a Labradoodle took interest in our doodles and before we knew it she was pulled, tumbling to the ground. She knocked her head hard on the concrete.

While I corralled three dogs, Tammy skillfully got to work assessing damage, checking on the swelling right wrist and temple, asking inquiring questions to determine any cognitive impairment. Another woman ran across the park, assisting where needed. The three of us walked her home with great care, back to her ailing husband.

We had time. We leveraged our flexibility, consoling and caring for our new friend, making sure she was situated with frozen peas and corn to stifle the swelling. After exchanging phone numbers and stories we each returned to our days and lives.

I know we all have a lot going on. I know there are sports and jobs and meetings and upcoming holidays. I know the roads are busy and the people crabby. I know the easy answer is to match frustration with irritation and anger. I get it.

But the truth is, those of us with the privilege, we have to use it to make the lives better for those who don’t have the same. Privilege is our gift to leverage. Well spent privilege is the underpinning of love.

I have a tendency to believe I need to make a larger impact, that staying small and focused on my home, neighborhood, and town isn’t enough. I think it’s a temptation for many of us, to think we must do big things, that only big things count. But I disagree. Our people are right under our noses. If we tilt our heads over and to the left, we will see our neighbors. And the way of love will absolutely make itself known.

My people are here – sleeping in my bed, eating at my table, drinking my milk, attending my church, frequenting my grocery store, trick-or-treating with my kids. My people are lifting weights and running on treadmills, they are strolling by my house and driving in the car next to me. My people are adjusting my spine and examining my eyes and selling me beer. We have countless opportunities each and every day to love our neighbors. It’s not groundbreaking. It’s not exhausting. It’s not overwhelming. It’s easy and it’s obvious.

I’m tired of the addiction to importance. Just as each of our votes matters, so do each and every one of our attentive smiles and kind words and courteous waves. We make the world better one act at a time. Let’s remember the impact we make just by noticing.

In God’s economy, small is the new big.