I had a response on Twitter to my post from Saturday about Bishop Curry’s sermon at the Royal Wedding on love:. “Too simple by half.” the person tweeted.
Love? Simple? Hardly.
I won’t presume to speak for Bishop Curry. I, however, didn’t mean engaging with the world from a place grounded in love is simple. Far from it.
A loving existence takes conscious effort, backed by incredible energy. The easy way, the uncomplicated way, is to be cynical, judgmental, greedy, etc…
Love means engaging with others, and that’s tough. How do I know this? When I read that tweet calling my column “too simple by half,” I muted the user. I just didn’t want to see anything further from them. That wasn’t really a loving response and it came from a reactionary place of fear and doubt. What if my column really was simplistic?
The loving response might have been to engage with that person and ask why they felt that way. For what it’s worth, I’m not going to be too hard on myself because I’ve seen good people trolled on social media and treated horribly by anonymous accounts created for the sole purpose of being abusive. So, while dialogue was an option, it was also an act of self-compassion on my part to disengage in case that was the situation. (The rather flippant response was also an indicator that individual was not really commenting in order to enter into a constructive conversation).
See what I mean though? Engaging with the world from a place of love takes work. I am not always up to that task. I try. But it’s rarely the easiest thing to do. You have to be vulnerable and open to getting hurt.
Anyone who says that our world would be so much better off if we all made decisions and took actions grounded in love is likely not saying that it is easy. It is profoundly not and is probably the hardest thing you can do.
Going through this life as a loving person is the spiritual equivalent of a challenging gym workout. Sometimes you feel like it’s not going to end, everything hurts, and you just want to fall over after first throwing up a little bit. But you end up better – and stronger – for having done it.
In the Christian tradition we have an example of someone who lived his whole life from a place that was deeply grounded in love. It so frightened the authorities that they killed him for it. I’ve actually seen some responses to Bishop Curry’s sermon that seemed rather fear-based in their dismissive reaction to it.
Love, you see, is a force that upends the moneychangers’ tables in the Temple. It’s disruptive to the status quo – at least the status quo we seem to have built for ourselves. A world built on love is scary for some because it threatens their power, prestige and control.
While some may differ with Bishop Curry’s take on love, I don’t think it can be dismissed as simplistic. He likely knew he was asking for a lot, but that is role of a prophet – to make us see and acknowledge the shadow in ourselves that we’d rather not admit is there.
And if we listen, and work hard to change, the world will be better for it.
Kevin Aschenbrenner is a Victoria-based writer, poet and communications professional. He holds an M.A. in Culture and Spirituality from the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in Oakland, Calif. He blogs at www.dearpopefrancis.ca.
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