Love Beyond Belief: There Is More Love Somewhere

January 29, 2017 ()

READING

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~ Wendell Berry ~

 (The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry)

READING
HYMN No. 95 There Is More Love Somewhere (African American hymn)

There is more love somewhere.
I’m gonna keep on ‘til I find it.
There is more love somewhere.

There is more hope somewhere.
I’m gonna keep on ‘til I find it.
There is more hope somewhere.

There is more peace somewhere.
I’m gonna keep on ‘til I find it.
There is more peace somewhere.

There is more joy somewhere.
I’m gonna keep on ‘til I find it.
There is more joy somewhere.

SERMON

Dear friends, for the last four weeks, I’ve been preaching about Love Beyond Belief, and I will do so again today. But, with a slightly different point of view. I’ve been sharing with you various ways that we, as people of faith, can embody and practice love in this broken and hurting world. We are in a time of tremendous change and uncertainty. We are looking for specific ways to love our neighbors, those we know and those we do not know, and we are standing up for them whenever we can. Prolonged silence in the growing avalanche of destruction of democracy and human/environmental injustice is the most dangerous choice we can make. So, Yes. Practicing Love Beyond Belief is required of us now.

That call to action, however, is just one face of Love. It is, if you will, the obverse face of love. It looks outward – toward our world, toward our neighbor, toward freedom, liberty, human rights, and justice for all – human and nonhuman. We need to be working in the service of all we cherish. The reverse face of that same love is the inward looking love. It is the opeing that allows us to receive love. As with most reservoirs of human energy and emotion, our reserve of love could empty if we are not carefully managing the stock and flow, the giving out AND the taking in. We are not, in fact, blessed with endless supplies of energy and emotion, even love.

There is so much happening in our nation and in our world that causes us to weep in agony or scream in rage. Both seem quite appropriate to me. And still, I don’t know about all of you, but I can say that I can be worn down. Maintaining a tight regimen of righteous indignation can leave a person empty of all truly helpful energy. Right?

Well, I find that I am sometimes sending the needle into the red zone of danger on that scale of leading with anger and righteous indignation. Once I’ve pinned the needle at the end of the red zone, I’m no good to myself or to anyone else. My energy is spent and no one else can stand to listen to my ranting. Oh, and it doesn’t help the situation.

On other days, in fact two days this week alone, I find that I am so worn down by the assault of proposed injustice coming at us that I live on the verge of tears. I am weeping silent tears. Not a rushing cascade of tears. These are the tears that quietly, and almost reverently, overflow my eyes and slide ever-so-slowly down my cheeks. I can wipe them away quickly and without anyone else really noticing. But I notice. Can any of you relate to this? Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s like a waterfall of sadness.

I think, perhaps, both the miscellaneous rage and the unbidden tears come from a place of emptiness, or, perhaps, simple depletion. We cannot run this race without nourishment. We cannot run this race alone. We cannot resist all the attacks on people, systems of democracy, and the environment without food for the body and strength for the soul. In my mind, I hear the deep voice of black gospel singer, Wintley Phipps: “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.” Well, perhaps like some of you, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. May we, in our fatigue and our uncertainty of the best way forward, reach out for the hand of someone who takes it without grievance or reservation. May we find ourselves caught up in the embrace of the Universal Love that knows no boundary and never tires; a love that gives us reassurance for the heart, strength for the body, and determination for the soul.

Love shows up.

  • When we show up to speak and act on the side of justice, that is Love.
  • When someone shows up for us with a cup of water or an energy bar, or an open-hearted embrace, that is Love.
  • When we feel the power of the interdependent web of our existence through prayer or meditation or song or dance, or resting in the mid-day sun, that is Love.
  • When we go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds and we come into the peace of wild things, that is Love.
  • When we come home from a long day of work, or from hours of demonstrating, writing letters to elected officials, or direct action to preserve earth and equality, and we fall into the arms of our family, that is Love.
  • When we gather together, here in this Meeting House, and raise our voices in song to affirm more love, more hope, more peace, more joy, somewhere and that we will keep on until we find it, live it share it, that is Love.

My Dear Spiritual Companions, we are engaged in a long and arduous process of retaining, restoring, and preserving the values and the world we cherish. These next few years will require all we can give in the service of our principles and commitments. We will not survive if we do not understand the importance of letting Love come to us as well as we understand the need to give Love to others. Love Beyond Belief has two sides. The obverse side is how we demonstrate this love in the world. The reverse side is how we allow this love to fill us and restore us as cold refreshing water drawn from the well of life.

Come, then, all ye who are weary, to the well of love. This is not an empty invitation. This is a life-saving invitation. Whatever your beliefs. Whatever your religious or spiritual orientation – theist, atheist, agnostic, stoic, philosopher, monk, pagan, shaman, materialist, humanist, realist, or even, New England Patriots fan. Come. Come and receive the life-saving love that transcends all our particularities and differences. Come, and accept the love that is freely given, freely offered, freely shared, with you and with everyone, no exceptions. Come, whoever you are. Come, no matter your present state of need or unrest. This Love comes from beyond our knowing and from beyond our ability to define and describe it. Yet, we feel it when it fills us with new life and renewed energy.

We will not fail to do our duty. May we also never fail to rest and refresh ourselves. Let us retreat to the peace of wild things and there find peace for a little while. Let us sing of love and hope and peace and joy and there find spiritual strength and renewal. Let us come together and share a cup of cool water, for water is life. Let love wash over you, every one of you.

Let me conclude with the words, once again, of my friend, Rev. Sarah Stewart, in a prayer she offers for this week.

Love, hold us and call us onward. Tend our sorrows and strengthen our commitments. Connect us to one another through the bonds of fellowship and lovingkindness. Help us to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. Amen.      

May this Cup of Water, which is Life,
Restore you - Body and Spirit.

 

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Rev. Margaret A. Beckman

Rev. Margaret A. Beckman

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