In my meditation, I walk out to the garden at Gentlewood and sit down on the rocking swing, next to Mary Magdalene. Jesus is outside the encircled garden listening to the frogs in the wetlands next to my home.
Today we talk about love. Not the love we feel from day to day for one another. We are going to talk about the demonstrative love that Father Berto spoke of recently.
Mary is referring to a recent church sermon about the bible story of a woman named Mary washing and anointing Jesus’ feet the week of Passover. Mary leans over and quietly shakes her head saying, “that wasn’t me.”
Yes. I remember. The very expensive oil and the extravagant act in front of the others. All to honor Jesus. I call this kind of love radical love. I was trying to think of a modern equivalent to this story.
Your friend. The one who is sitting bedside with his dying friend, the wartime person, as he steps nearer to passing over. That is what we are talking about. Being present for someone in a profound way. It may be an action, such as Mary with her oil, or it may be just being present for someone during a difficult time. What is called for in these moments, these times, is to first open your heart.
I look to Mary. I feel the how-to coming on and I pray that I remember her words.
Go into your heart space and breathe. Listen to what the moment is calling you to do. This may sound simple at first, but it isn’t. it is really a type of surrender. An offering to the other person, or situation, or condition that you are putting their needs first. Do you understand?
I grow silent listening to Mary. I realize that this is something that I rarely do. Unless someone is in visible need, I’m in my mind space, checking off the list of what’s next.
Mary, hearing my thoughts:
There is no need for judgment. I am asking you to consider practicing a new style of awareness. This will take practice. Learning to open your heart and listen through your heart is something that can be learned. It is a skill. Once you begin to live this way you will realize that there is no other way to live, to serve.
When your heart learns to remain open, the radical love will automatically fill in the places and situations that it needs to.
Maybe there is a more practical way of expressing what I am trying to say...
Do you believe that this weekend is all about radical love? That Jesus walked the Path, the path of the cross so we can all live to accept this radical love from him?
Yes. I believe that is exactly what this weekend is about!
And do you accept that love? All of that love? Fully and with your whole heart?
I continue to stare. She is right. This is difficult for me. I want to open my heart fully. I want to reveal my whole hand.
It’s OK Sally. There are many who feel like you do. They want to fully love, but they don’t know how. They want to fully believe, but it is too much to fathom. They want to give but…
The idea here is the surrendering. No matter how you come to the cross, Jesus is there for you. This radical love is always here for you and when you open your heart just a little and ask for help, he will show you the Way.
Give yourself that permission, Sally. Surrender.
Surrender is the first form of acceptance.
OK. I understand. And I believe that I am whole and worthy. I want to serve. I do serve! I just have a hard time accepting myself sometimes, I guess.
Mary, smiling down into her lap:
Yes, we know that about you. You are surrounded and made real by this love I speak of. You merely need to accept it. Surrender.
There is a simple way of learning how to love; learning how to walk the path of this radical love.
In your heart, and on your lips, begin by saying YES. No matter the situation. Start saying yes.
Your heart has learned no in so many languages by now…teach it to say yes.
Mary, sweetly shrugging her shoulders: