GraceNotes: Holding the Space for … Reflection

#78 — October 1, 2018

Did I forgive? Did I love?
These are the real questions.

— Henri Nouwen

Greetings, Inspired Seekers!

I have been thinking a great deal about love lately. Perhaps it is because I have booked several weddings during the last few weeks. Perhaps it is the recent celebration of my own wedding anniversary. Perhaps it is because I am watching the news and reading the newspapers. I know — that last one threw you a bit, right? Well, stay with me here.

Love, in the Christian tradition, is taught in many ways, not the least of which is the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Think about that for a minute. Now think of the recent news being reported throughout our country. Where is the love? What do the headlines say about how we love ourselves?

If we consider the recent choices, decisions and actions we — and others — are involved with at the moment, what are we really saying? When we marginalize others, when some are included and others are not, when wounds are inflicted so easily, are we not clearly proclaiming that, as a society, we have lost our self-love? It seems to me that we are telling the world we really don't like ourselves very much.

Other traditions also hold the same beliefs. Hinduism asks for compassion for all in recognition of the Oneness of all. If everything is a manifestation of the Creator, then who are we really hurting when we cause pain?

The Jains also believe that compassion is essential for the whole community; there is no separation one from the other.

This sense of the sacred in community is critical for many reasons, not the least of which is because humans are in a constant state of relationship — with ourselves and with the rest of the world. What is it that keeps us from embracing that? Well, the better question is: what are the unhealed wounds that keep us captive and without compassion? Suffering should open us up to compassion but it can only do that if we heal. Community is not destroyed by suffering; it is destroyed by a lack of healing which is transformed into compassion.

So, the question for all of us is: Where do we fit into this story? Are we loving our neighbors as ourselves? Do we love ourselves enough to be able to offer compassion to all? We are a part of this community. All of us. So, can we heal enough to be that compassionate part? What will the headline say about us?

Grace-Fully Yours,
Reverend Deborah

Monthly Affirmation: I love myself enough to love all others. I offer compassion to all.

The Reverend Dr. Deborah Darlington can be reached for sacred ceremonies and speaking engagements at