...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Loving/Courage

In the second meeting of our group (moved up to Monday, March 30 from Wed., April 1), we explored the habit of loving and being loved. In the talk, I presented the experience of loving as grounded in being loved. To know yourself as one who is loved is the foundation for offering love. Crudely stated, you can't give what you do not have.

The other possibility was raised, i.e., that, in our risking love, we learn it. In gutting it out, in leaping out where we're uncomfortable, we learn we can trust God and others. That gets very close to another habit we'll be looking at later on: trust/faith. One way or another though, we experience what is to be loved in our loving others. In this case, we appreciate and learn the risk and sacrifice inherent in loving.

To be loved is to give our lives to a purpose and a passion that goes beyond us: it's to experience transcendence. Our human experience of unconditional love is limited always; the parts of it we encounter are sometimes enough to move us to courage. For many, it's so lacking that to think in terms of God's hesed/agape is a total a leap of faith.

Love often precedes courage, or in the words of Paul, "If I give my body over to be burned, but do not love, I am nothing." Your courage is "nothing" without love. With the hesed (steadfastness) and agape (unconditional love) of Jesus, we can do anything.

The daily practice is discovering your breath prayer and then, of course, using it throughout this week.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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