I have professed for decades, “Love is the most powerful force for change in the world”. But over the years, as founder of a community for survivors, and as a priest, I forget I believe in this. Instead I get tripped up by all the noise in the world and by my own fears and ego. It's hard by virtue of what we do, to love. Love in its unadulterated form must be like the sun on a clear day. It’s so bright and powerful we can't look directly at it. Yet such a vision of pure brightness is our deepest longing. It is this ideal that creates prophets and poets. This pure love was described by Gandhi as “Ahimsa," the soul force. So powerful it can unleash the chains of oppression and set captives free. Martin Luther King believed such love is realized together in a beloved community. Loving together could change the course of history. Dorothy Day called this radical love, and we had to count it highest among our ideals. Only then could love topple nations and change individual hearts.
I long to believe all of this. I vow to spend my life seeking this love. But what I have witnessed in religious circles and justice work is we don’t allow ourselves to exercise love’s power. Instead we settle for building tiny boxes that eclipse the magnificence of love. We look through our self-created boxes and love becomes, convoluted, cauterized, constrained, compartmentalized, and compromised. Even though we are seeing love dimly, we tell ourselves that is just what love looks like. So, we stock pile more than we need, and thereby justify the harm we have caused one another and ourselves. Think for a moment how we have suppressed love. We have thwarted it like huge grey clouds masking the sun. I understand why. The cost of bearing such a light is next to impossible to live with.
I have glimpsed it. You have too. We see it when everything else fades and our hearts turn to flesh. I sat with 20 women from all parts of the world in a refugee camp in Greece. The skies were hot and clear and none of us knew the next steps. The refugees had suffered so much and our goal was to create aneconomic community for women. There was no clear path forward. All we had was love. There were tears to be sure, there were some disagreements, and too many meetings. But love lead us that day. I felt it burning my face and stinging the salt water tears. I kept thinking, “if we can just love each other, everything else will move out of our way.” In midst of the heat, trauma, uncertainty, and huge demands, I felt divine pure joy.
I don’t want to leave this earth forgetting to look up and catch the glimpses of pure love. I want to experience ahimsa unadulterated where the force for change dwells. I want to travel with a beloved community that tends to radical love daily. When we glimpse at love in its purest form and feel its true power, we experience an eternal pull that has changed the world. When we are brave enough to walk toward such light, we can feel love’s contagious nature, and we can feel how intimate and messy the whole affair unfolds. When we walk toward that kind of love, we cross borders and join a host of other yearning pilgrims. We set aside shame, resentment, excuse, procrastination, and hoarding.
This is how I want to us to live, walking as flock under a bright sky. You are in the rays of such love. Don’t forget to look up. Don’t forget to run to community that believes in radical love. Don’t get fooled by all the other glittery objects around you. You will always find love as long as there is a sky above you. We can search together through our own daily practices and through a shared commitment to love. We have an inherited right to keep reaching out in this world and sit under the hot sun and believe, “love is the most powerful force for change in the world.”