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Mark Dohle

What we offer

March 6, 2010 | Comment icon 0 comments

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[!gad]I think most people are seeking (metaphorical speaking), to get outside of their own skin, to feel less isolated and on the fringe and to simply belong. Communication can oftentimes be a frustrating way to seek to bridge the divide and does not always work. Even when it does, it can only be an illusion, for we each bring our history with us, so no relationship is simply in the ‘now’ but incorporates all that has gone on before. So language, facial expressions and body language added to the mix, along with cultural and generational difference, it is any wonder that we can understand each other at all.

“All you need is love” is the refrain made famous in the 60’s by the Beatles; however that can also cause some problems. People have pets, which I feel is a good thing. Dogs seem to be the most popular, since dogs actually return love threefold to the one who is their owner. They are forgiving, patient with their masters and comfort them in times of sorrow and loneliness. The owners take care of them, keep them healthy and return the love the dog desires so much. Some people love cats. While they are beautiful creatures, I am not sure I would want one hanging around the house all day. What these two beautiful species have in common is that they can be touched, held and made a fuss over; in other words the connection is very physical. In any case I am not much of a pet person, expect perhaps for a fish now and then. I suppose if I lived by myself, then I would probably feel more of a need for a pet. Love of a pet and the pets’ love of its owner, does not pose much of a problem. Well besides the fact that the pet owner will have to experience loss many times, since the life spans of animals tend to be short compared to human lives. So yes, the cost of love is the mourning that always follows when it ends.

I suppose the love of another human being, one that is significant in ones life can be more of a challenge. While it is true that we are all very much alike, there are still differences that make any kind of real relationship seem at times like a roller coaster ride. In marriage as well as in friendships there can be a honeymoon period, in which things run smoothly…..well until the differences start to become more apparent. The difference between infatuation and love are not obvious at the beginning of the journey, but it is only love that can survive the long haul. Infatuation is the hook, the glow that we see in others that call us outside of our-selves. To belong, to communicate with someone else with a freedom not experienced before, generates a feeling of buoyancy and joy that is very invigorating. Well that is until the glow goes and the ‘god’ or ‘goddess’ becomes simply human. Love continues, infatuation dies, and the seeker of that high goes off looking for the next ‘god’ or ‘goddess’. So for many relationships beginnings can be very self-centered, but if continued love is the fruit. The seed comes to full bloom when actual communication between the two happens. Listening, seeing things from the others viewpoint, service, are all factors in any kind of real relationship. It is not always about talking, there are many ways to listen to someone else and to grow in understanding and appreciation of differences, just as there are many ways of showing love. Of course this is difficult and often a very bumpy ride. Yet many marriages do survive and old loving couples are more common than many people are aware of. Too bad many of them can’t write books about their experiences, their fights, the failings with each other, yet in the end, love survived and flourished. I once asked an older couple that I know, who are happily married after sixty years how they did it? They both said the same thing, they listened to each other and also how difficult it was much of the time. Yet there they were, holding hands, smiling and often acting like happy children when in each others presence.

I suppose the love of God can be the most problematic. God can’t be taken care of, held or coddled. Pets are easy for the most part. What you see is what you get. People, well they are way more complicated and mysterious, for often what you see is often not real at all….for so many mask are worn that even the wearer does not know that is what is happening. With God, well there is nothing to see, just a calling to move into an ever deeper trust in what in the end is an infinite mystery. Yet all the other loves seem to somehow point to this transcendent longing that seems to be a part of what it means to be human. The problem is when we try to make this mystery into “our God”. A tribal deity, tamed and domesticated, even more so than we do our pets; with the scriptures to prove it. Idol worship is still alive and well and I guess will be until the end of time. The idols are not representation outside of the soul, but it is our image that is really worshipped and sought after. In other words God is made in our image and likeness instead of the other way around. Scriptures can be the worst offenders. It is easy to find whatever one wants in the holy books, picked and chosen, lined up with others, memorized, and then used to brow beat others into submission through fear. Which by the way never works…. for what is feared, cannot be loved or trusted and in the end, only hated as an enemy. It seems that we are not meant for that, servile fear in any relationship. It is hard enough to listen to each other, to understand, to realize that others are not mere extensions of my wants and needs; with God it can even be more difficult.

When we judge, harshly, the soul of another (not so much their actions, for actions can be good or evil, right or wrong, so yes we judge in that way); then in fact what we see is just a mirror image of ourselves. The eyes of God that sees us, are our eyes, the people we condemn are Christ, when we love it is with God’s love, when we hate, we hate ourselves. We are all Christ to one another, either in hate or in love, for in hatred we hate Christ who identifies with the least, and in loving we share in Christ grace and mercy and extend it to all those we meet. For just has we received mercy, so we should give it. Grace is a gift offered us; it is also something we offer one another.

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