The first and last word
Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel
Love is very patient, very kind.
Love knows no jealousy;
love makes no parade,
gives itself no airs,
is never rude,
love is never glad when others go
love is gladdened by goodness,
always slow to expose,
always eager to believe the best,
Love never disappears.
Love makes for a good first word for an article - or to begin a day. An article takes a point of view, and a day is full of promise. Maybe their possibilities can unite today.
These brief verses on love from First Corinthians have been a companion since my high school days. Memorizing them was among the requirements for joining a club, and they have helped begin many of my days since.
God is Love, and the expression of love pours out of these Biblical words. They guide and nourish daily life in such useful ways - from providing an individual code of conduct to a wide-reaching pathway for the healing of nations.
The acute need at this time of human history is to wipe terrorism from the face of the earth. This diabolical opposite of love has twisted and radicalized envy into hatred and vengeance. Self-justification has perverted weak and immature thought into committing suicide and wholesale murder.
But even so base an enemy as terrorism cannot survive. It must change or disappear. The enemy of love - the enemy of Love, God - cannot triumph. Love is supreme. Love is not timid in the face of poison, contagion, or explosion. Love does not withdraw in the face of terror, hate, and fear. The unshakable and eternal foundation of life is based on the reality of God as Love, and when understood even a little, human thought begins to move toward more noble aims and purposes.
In human history there have been deep hurts - accounts of offenses and counteroffenses over hundreds of years. But if this is all there is, when and where is healing to begin? Hate and terrorism are not the pathway of reform or regeneration or redemption. Can we put Love in charge of history, just as Love is in charge of the present and future? Love is omnipresent and omnipotent. And Love, the divine and universal Deity, is the creator, the origin, and ultimate All-in-all. This is enough. The human route to this "enough" is not that we learn the lessons we need to learn and then Love begins to be real and to care for us. Love cares first. Love loves first. And through that love we are able to control our thoughts and conduct our actions. This is the pathway of safety and deliverance from hate.
This healing or deliverance from the attacks of hate may come through reason. Or it may draw from intuition and inspiration. It may come when least expected but when most needed. Love is a triumph. It not only outshines hate and its co-conspirators terror and fear, Love actually turns a bright light on their irrelevance and ultimate nonexistence.
A brief try at a mugging on the streets of Boston was turned aside in a small victory of love. It began mildly, moved to a moment of violence and threat, and then suddenly turned to a mutual and harmless parting. Someplace in the encounter it became an honest and intelligent, and even slightly wry, exchange - and stopped. Other than a small cut, I was not harmed. The lessons learned for me were that Love is present and that human differences and have-and-have-not tensions do not universally rule or trade times of supremacy with God's care. God's care is always and for everybody. Hate and fear have nothing to offer.
In her textbook on healing, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy refers to Love as "the universal solvent" (see pg. 242). Love dissolves terror and hate and heals the terrorist/hater. The accomplishment of this may take patience, time, and tears, but those are investments in progress, not roadblocks. The healing or elimination of hate is found in the power of this first and last word - Love.