Bishop’s Mantle column by Jim Bishop
Hello, poetry lovers!
The 14th of February every year,
It happens all over this planet.
For on that day love melts the heart
That’s usually taken for granite.
Love, dear hearts, is more than a feeling, but it has a way of stirring other emotions in ways often past understanding. Love has always played a delicate balancing act with the forces of hate and enmity on the scales of life. There are myriad cries for peace (especially now) amid war cries, civil rights advances and setbacks, parental affection and child abuse.
Love is often hard to define, easier to point to, but too slcom practiced as God intended – that is, we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.
And who is our neighbor – anyone, anywhere who is in need. I maintain that we’ll have difficulty loving our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. If we haven’t succeeded in developing a strong, positive self-image, we’re less likely to feel inclined to extend a helping hand to others.
‘Tis simple to select a card
From those displayed upon the shelf.
More preferable to proffer others
Is the homemade kind – yourself.
The late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the psychiatrist who wrote the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying, and whom I had the privilege of hearing speak some years ago, has said, “I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help.
“There is no mistaking love,” she continued. “You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heals our soul, energizes our spirit, and supplies passion to our lives. It is our connection to God and to each other.”
Wow! Love in its fullness is not a conglomeration of syrupy, pious platitudes. It may require a toughness to say “no” on those occasions when rationalizations and temptations would keep us from being true to ourselves and short-circuit our relationship with others and with our Creator.
Contrary to the idiotic line in “Love Story,” love is sometimes having to say, “I’m sorry.” Forgiveness is such a powerful force that can knock down walls of hostility, fear and mangled relationships.
Love is patience in a mile-long waiting line.
Love is getting down on a child’s level and seeing things from his and her point of view.
Love is respecting others’ beliefs even if we strongly disagree.
Love is putting our financial resources where our mouth is.
Love is caring for someone else after they can no longer care for themselves.
Love, supremely incarnated, is boundless, unconditional and eternal.
Human love takes many forms
All marvelous to see.
But greater still, John 3:16,
God’s valentine to me.
Jim Bishop is the public-information officer at Eastern Mennonite University.