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Love and Power

Wow! Maria Shriver in her "Above the Noise" Sunday reflection today began with this:

"Father Richard Rohr once said that “only love can safely handle power.” Have you ever met someone who was such a gracious and yet powerful leader? Did they lead with love? It is completely countercultural - isn't it? And, it is counter-intuitive as well.

We want to fight power with power. We want to fight violence with violence. We want to "control" the choices of others in order to bring the coherence and order that we want to see. Instead of collaboration, kindness, and love being the words of the day - we want authority to step in and make it all stop.

At a time in history when everyone was looking for Jesus to overthrow Rome and "take over" - what did Jesus do? Jesus was an example of all he taught. Jesus was caught speaking truth to power. Jesus upset the system by reframing the rules for power. "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5) "The first shall be last and shall be the servant of all..." (Matthew 20 and Mark 9) "Love the Lord your your neighbor as yourself...on these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22)

Did Jesus just tell us to love ourselves?! Did Jesus actually tell us to LOVE those who are from completely different ways of life? Did Jesus just tell us to become servants? Yes! Indeed! These were foreign thoughts to the people then, and they are certainly foreign to us now.

This is where I want to insert the questions Maria and her friend want to ask of our potential leaders of the country. These were such refreshing questions to me. Could we have a town-hall meeting where the moderator asks these questions of the candidates?

1 - Is the ability to love others - including those who disagree - an important

qualification for the presidency?

How would you rate yourself in this ability? Can you give some examples?

2 - Do you think hatred is dangerous to our country?

3 - What would you do as president to reduce the hatred that some Americans feel

toward other Americans?

4 - Have you ever had your heart broken, as in wide open?

5 - Tell me a time when you felt unloved and how that made you feel.

6 - Tell me about feeling unwelcome, judged, or dismissed (as so many people do at

this moment).

7 - Tell me about the role love would play in your administration.

8 - Tell me about the love you feel for this country and your fellow citizens.

9 - Tell me about a conversation you had with someone you disagreed with that ended

in love.

With all of the last debates before the primaries begin - my stomach just continues to be in knots at the way we speak to one another on national stages and life in general. Jesus - could you please run for president? Could you please teach us how to treat each other even when we disagree? Oh wait - you have.

When Jesus starts in on the Laws they had learned and followed for years, " have heard it said, BUT I TELL YOU..." (Matthew 5:17-48) the people had to be stunned! When I read that passage - I am stunned again! Why?!?! Because the spirit of the Law was not being followed. There was no love, no compassion, just power - just authority - just rules - and harsh discipline for missing the mark. And how do THEY respond to LOVE being the Law? Well, let's choose to respond differently than they did...shall we?

I choose LOVE! I want to live like THAT! I want to be compassionate, loving, kind, hopeful and helpful. I want to speak truth to power - but I want to be honest and tender in how that is done. I want to "...influence, shape and encourage..." rather than "...humiliate, deceive, maneuver and control..." (Please see above sign.) Oh God please help me.

I vote for Ken - my love! I vote for peaceful moments together with each other (and the cat - who no doubt might just outlive us - ha!) where we are kind, sad, hopeful, confused, but glad to be together, celebrating each other. (This love thing starts at home - and in our hearts - right?)

I vote for Becky - my friend who met us to catch up.

I vote for playing cards together and drinking coffee with Mom G on a cold evening when we are worn and tired and need to laugh.

I vote for phone conversations and texts with family and friends encouraging them in the faith, laughing together, deciding to hold our tongues in order to have relationship with one another, walking with them in their sorrows, and praying for each other as we struggle with life stuff.

I vote for loving myself enough to take care of my heart and soul with God, with myself, with those I agree and disagree with.

I vote for loving myself enough that I can recognize HOW to love my neighbors - ALL OF THEM. This takes work!

2024 is my year of "radical resilience." I am working on loving God - yes! But, mostly, I am working on letting God love me. I want to learn what Jesus talked about - what does this loving myself include? Finding ways to take care of my soul and my heart? Learning enough to then love those I do not understand? Giving myself grace as God gives me grace? I want my year of radical resilience to include forgiveness of myself, forgiveness of others, the release of shame, the ability to tell my story, and the ability to walk forward without fear.

I believe radical resilience is ALL about LOVE!

And I am beginning this year KNOWING and experiencing the LOVE of friends, family, and a small group of amazingly committed LOVERS of God and people. I am so grateful! I want LOVE to guide my political decisions. I want LOVE to govern my actions and words. May kindness and hopefulness become the norm because LOVE is my song, my dance, and the very beginning of resiliently overcoming my fears

In the words of Diana Butler Bass in her Sunday Musings today, it is time to "follow the light to its glorious source, (where) seekers are welcomed into the widening circle of light" which is her definition of Epiphany. Today, being the second Sunday after Epiphany is a great time to begin again. And I believe that LOVE IS THE POWER that transform us and our world.

Let it begin in me, Oh Lord.

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