During Lent this year, my brother Thom suggested that we reflect on where we see the presence of God in the world. He was more successful in sticking to that theme than I was. But I still think about that - where I see, discover or sense the presence of the Spirit in my life. I've come to learn that for me, this needs to be an intentional act; I have to actively seek out the Divine in my life. I think that is because my life and our society are so full of busy-ness and spectacle, my ability to see the quiet, steady presence of God is diminished. To find God in my life, I need to search for it, reach out for it, dig for it.
Maybe it has always been hard for humans to find the Spirit, even back in early times. Jesus taught his followers that it was simple, but those closest to him found it a hard path to follow. And, so do I...every day, my actions and thoughts make it a difficult journey.
Recently, I've been dealing with a demanding situation calling on me to be intentional about seeking the presence of the Spirit. This situation is full of emotion - a mix of positive energy coming out of change, accompanied by negative shadows in the background...a potent mixture of one part disdain, one part spite, one part anger and a dash of hatred thrown in for seasoning. I'm aware of this negative side to things and I feel it colouring how I deal with the situation. This negative side is mostly focused at a particular person (that is so human!) and what makes it even easier to focus on this is my sense that somehow I've been betrayed. That sense is so strong, it threatens to take over my judgment, to throw me off balance and plunge me into a whirlpool of vindictiveness and rash behaviour.
Enter my brother Thom; Thom the Good, Thom the Balanced, Thom - my lens for seeing the presence of the Spirit in life. Thom sent me a reflection that was about loving the unlovable. It was a short reminder of how Jesus asked his followers to act; that word "act" is important, that's what Jesus expected - he wanted us to walk the talk. He taught that I need to love others as I love myself, to treat them as I would be treated. Even if they are unlovable or do unlovable things, I am called by the Spirit to be loving. Whew! Simple words that are hard to follow.
But, when I think about it, the sense of it becomes evident. To love another as I love myself is one of those double-edged actions...an action that is reciprocal. If my action is negative for the other, I will experience the negative too. If it's loving for the other, I too will experience the loving. If I cannot love the other, how can I love myself?
In terms of this demanding situation I'm dealing with, I think I was coming back to ground on my own; but, Thom's reflection served to remind me of how I need to act. Tough decisions are easier when they are not influenced by negative factors like spitefulness, anger and hatred. Those feelings are as damaging to me as they are to the other. So, I need to set them aside and get on with loving the unlovable. Something Divine can happen then: solutions that were invisible suddenly become obvious. Not easy, but do-able, God being my helper.