Thursday, September 1, 2011

Seeing to love

Sometimes love hurts so good and sometimes it just hurts. Yesterday on the way to work, I'm having a conversation with God - well, maybe more of a one-way conversation - and I ask him to give me some of his love for others. To see glimpses of what he sees in people, beyond the surface, and to love them. I know my guilt. I know I have loved people often for how they make me feel, for what they can do for me. I have loved those who are easier to love, the ones who don't get under my skin or inconvenience me or interrupt me or demand too much of me. I have loved conditionally, and I know it's a failure to see.

In the late morning, a regular customer walks in. He's a gentle, quiet giant of a man. One of the last times he was in, he told me he's a union electrician, unemployed, and that the wait list for jobs is like two years out. I haven't forgotten; it hurt my heart to hear it. This time, I pour his drip coffee as usual, set it on the counter, and ask him where he's from. As he's talking, I'm fixed on his face and I start to feel something, some emotion, stirring deep. I barely hear what he's saying, but I hear something else, an impression in my heart coming from somewhere beyond me.

I love him, I love him so much. He has no idea how precious he is to me. I'm so proud of him, my child.

I blink, trying to stay focused, but wondering if this feeling of growing emotion is going to elicit tears, and how embarrassing that would be because how could I explain to this man what I'm hearing, feeling. We say goodbye and he walks away, and I just stand there for a few moments in a daze, thinking, I've just been hit by the love of God. Wow.

I read later in one of my several books, that "a person, in a real sense, is what he or she sees" (Brendan Manning). And I think about him, my customer, and about all the other people throughout this day that I've seen with love, and about all the customers and family and friends, strangers and loved ones, in so many other days that I have failed to see. Including myself. Because it's often true, if we don't see ourselves as loved, we will not see others as loved.

So I continue to pray, because I know I will never master this: "Lord, help me to see, so that I can love."

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