The Love of the Lover

John 15:12-17 (Homily)

A few years back, on a cold winter afternoon, I received a phone call from my across-the-street neighbor.

She wanted to give us some home-made rolls, fresh baked. Of course, I couldn’t resist. So, I put on shoes, grabbed my new born son, Jack, in my arms–wrapped in a blanket–and headed out. I didn’t even pause to consider our front porch stairs and the effects of the recent (that day) winter weather. As I stepped on to that first stair, I hit a patch of black ice. My feet went out from under me. I grabbed the railing to stop my fall, but to no avail, I still fell. I landed three stairs down. My heart raced. Was Jack OK?! I looked at him, still cradled in my arms; he let out a huge shriek. I then examined him from head to toe…not one scrape or bump or possible bruise did I find on his fairly small, 12 week old, newborn body. I did, as one does, praise the Lord.

Somehow, during the fall, my maternal instincts kicked in; somehow, I was able to contort and twist my body so that I was the one who absorbed the fall–between me elbow and me bum–and protected my baby. I didn’t think about it…it just happened. I have often wondered what I would do should I slip down the stairs carrying one of my babies…I have never been able to come up with a good “exit” plan. You don’t get training for such an event; you just hope it never happens. And, in that very real moment, love for my child poured forth un-summoned and I took the entire fall with my body.

I bore the pain in my body for my son when we fell. Love actively takes the other into its safe keeping because the well-being of the beloved is the well-being of the lover. Love bonds one to another in such a way that the beloved’s pain is the lover’s pain; the beloved’s joy, the lover’s joy. The lover grieves with the beloved, gets angry with the beloved, rejoices with the beloved. It is a full and embodied presence of the lover with the beloved, otherwise, it would be impossible for the lover to feel the grief, the anger, the joy of the beloved. As people encountered by God in the event of faith, we are deeply and intimately connected one to another, like a mother and her child. Your pain is my pain; your joy, my joy.

And so it is with Christ. Christ has loved us with a full-embodied, self-giving, love-gift.  In this gift of love the love of God is given to us (to you, thus, to me), and the love of one for another. John’s Christ declares, 

“‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another,’” (John 15:12-14, 16-17).

The love of Christ for the world, drives him to take on flesh and to be born into the human predicament, the human problem. The Christ came into the world to identify in a real and embodied way the plight of humanity, the plight of the oppressed and marginalized, those stuck in situations dominated by the powers of sin and death. The pain of the beloved the lover feels; when Saul is persecuting the church, Jesus reveals himself to Saul and asks him, “Why are you persecuting…me?” Not: the followers of the way, or the young church….but me. In love the beloved is united to the lover and the lover feels to the core the pain and suffering, the joy and celebration of the beloved.

In your pain and in your suffering, you are not alone. In your joy and in your celebration, you are not alone. Not only are your family and friends here, and your teachers, but, more than that, almighty God of the cosmos is also present with you by the power of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in you and among you, uniting you to the Christ by faith by God’s grace. To gaze upon the cross is to see God united in solidarity with you even in your suffering, with the suffering of all humanity, with the suffering of the world. To gaze upon the cross is to see love at work, love loving the beloved, in an embodied full way unto the depths of human experience: suffering unto death.

Beloveds, you are you are heard, you are seen, you are loved; you are the beloved.

 

 

 

Intertwined

Our legs are intertwined Your right leg drapes heavy over my upper left inner thigh There is no movement It just rests as you sleep a deep peaceful sleep Skin to skin thigh to thigh like it was meant to be there since the beginning of time as if these two were created for each other I rest on my back experiencing the weight of your leg resting across mine Love Gratitude Thankfulness emotions that overcome my mind I turn I roll over bringing my right leg parallel to my left My thighs press  together in symphony with gravity not resisting with fight not pressing with intentionality just turning and rolling and resting my thigh on top of yours on top of mine In the process I feel your weight press against me more I pause and take in the wonderful sensation Union You and me intertwined My arm sleepily shifts with me and extends beyond me to embrace you You are fast asleep on my left arm pressed up against my breast and my right sweeps to grasp your back and pull you closer to me Closer to me than you already are if that is possible Your forehead meets my lips as I bring my head down to kiss you and I pause and inhale you You are the smell that I have fallen in love with the moment you first came into my world I am grateful for you So grateful I didn’t expect you I didn’t see you becoming intertwined with me but you did and here we are in my bed draped mutually across each other intertwined mutually with each other like lovers Lovers of the truest meaning of the word lovers Lovers Sensual sensual in the safest sense of the word sensual Skin touching skin Comfort and safety Freedom thus mutuality There is no fear here The love I feel for you is real love I love you and would lay my life down for you I let my lips linger over you enjoying this silent moment this moment you don’t know about This moment you are unaware of where I can love you with no reciprocal action Just love you from the bottom of me to the top of me toward the bottom of you to the top of you Love The warmth of your body radiates over mine as I have you in my embrace You stir I subtly and slowly pull back to give you space intending not to wake you up Lest I lose this moment forever I gently and slowly lean in one more time for one more kiss and risk letting relaxed fingertips of my right hand run gently, lovingly, and sensually over your hair all the way to the nape of your neck I smile I love you I steal one more kiss I love you I roll away and lay upon my back to let sleep take me over once again.