Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent reflection - The 4th Candle and The Love That Twerks

We lit the fourth candle on the Advent wreath at All Saints Pasadena this weekend. It's the candle of love, and it had me pondering about "love" and what it means to me.

In tv, movies, and romance novels, it seems that love is about passion - raw, wild, intense. We at church seem to shake our heads when love is brought up in these terms. We tut-tut it because it's just so inappropriate and ought to be private and in the dark, under covers, and certainly not before you've finished school.

On the other hand, in church, we often talk about the love of God as a paternal or maternal uberforce, with a strength that moves mountains, that conquers evil, making valleys level. This is a love that can beat the tar out of death and and yet was first made tangible in the form of a helpless infant.

While watching the sunrise on the trails this morning, I'm resistant walking a path of a love mapped out in either of these directions. It just sounds so simplistic, superficial. It's doesn't feel adequate in either scenario, and it certainly doesn't feel sustainable.

I know what feels like love to me. Love feels like sitting on the sofa with my Mom Saturday, both of us too full of eating bad food but knowing we're celebrating the season together. Love feels like listening to the nieces play guitar and sing together as I watch as a spectator in the audience, and as a participant by listening to them share their joy. Love feels like when I watch Dad transform into a kid again while he watches his grandchildren open gifts.

It's also hanging with the inlaws, just catching up despite the distances traveled by some, without a schedule, without needing to be rushed. Love this past month at home meant sitting with my fiance, filling out Christmas cards, cleaning up the house, perhaps while he bakes and I cook, sitting together listening to music, watching football games.

This love isn't intense. It's stable. Solid. Boring even. Love made plain because it needs no ornamentation.

And yet... the path of love isn't only about walking a straight road.

For love is not about isolation or nesting. We as always help out at Union Station Homeless Services on Thanksgiving Day for the Dinner in the Park event. We helped organize the setup this year. On Christmas Day, our larger family is joining in. After the Christmas Eve services where I'm singing and serving as a lay minister, after the family breakfast and gift giving, the family will join us as we finish Christmas Day in the park and do tear down and cleanup.

Love in this case is about sharing our time with the friend dressed as a stranger. When younger, I used to fall for the cultural stereotype that the homeless are lazy bums just looking for a handout. But, as Pope Francis has described, who am I to judge? There are people on the streets who shouldn't be treated as second class human beings. And for the Christians out there, to paraphrase Episcopal Bishop Barbara Harris, there's no such thing as a second rate baptism.

Many of the homeless are children, the innocent, the babes barely out of the manger. Recently, a powerful article called Homeless for the Holidays: Ending a Nation's Cruel Indifference to Homeless Youth moved me to tears. I know that in my community, one out of five homeless are youth. Love on a daily basis for me might be simple and about sharing time, but when I come face to face with those who are cold, weary, and hungry, love means doing something. Love for all of God's creatures means taking action. I feel compelled to do something because I do love Creation. Leaning back against a well and watching fellow brothers and sisters struggle doesn't ring true. 

Love means moving away from the wall and getting down on the dance floor.

I've never twerked in my life, and I imagine I'll sooner bust a hip before I ever bust such a move. But that delirious almost Pentacostal wildness is what's needed when we try to help others. I might be content, sated even, with gentleness and candlelight at home, but we need strobe lights and a bouncing spirit to bring real help to those who need shelter and food. It's passion that's just as sweaty, intense, and gritty as any romance novel. 

Sometimes we groove to a slow dance. Sometimes we're moved to hip-grinding wildness. But, no matter how we're moved, let sway to the unrelenting rhythms of God's music.

As I walked down the trails to my home wondering what an Advent of love means to me, I did a little skip, a little hop, a tiny dance. Once home, I gently woke up my fiance home on his Christmas vacation. In my soul, I was getting ready to twerk for all of God's family.

No comments :

Post a Comment