Calvary Episcopal Church
Memphis, Tennessee


The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
August 27, 2000
Volume 45, No.29

Staying in the Process of Love
"It does not matter whether one is at the giving or receiving end of love, just so long as one is a part of the process in some way." This was the conclusion reached by Phyllis Theroux in her delightful book Night Lights, which unfolds the story of rearing three children as a single mother.

Her conclusion was reached after one of those taxing moments when she had exhausted her strength in trying to meet all the demanding needs of all of her children. She had just finished tucking her five-year-old son into bed and was ready to rush away to other chores. Just as she was ready to leave the room she heard him say, "Now can you sing me a song?" A lot of things were left for her to do, but she could not refuse such a princely request. As she sang, strange and unwanted feelings overwhelmed her. Why wasn't somebody singing to her? Why wasn't somebody taking care of her needs? Her reserves seemed to be running out. Who would nurture her?

It was at that moment that she reached her conclusion about staying in the process of love. Since reading her book I have thought often about that scene and I have pondered much about the process of love. The two ends of it are giving and receiving. Both have great importance in life. There are times when we feel we are giving out so much and don't have much more to give. At such times we may experience a degree of resentment and anger.

If we are not careful, we can let ourselves get pushed into self-pity. To avoid that trap we must reaffirm our faith in the power of love to change things. When we cease to believe that a loving act is never wasted, we begin to sink into darkness and cynicism. A deep belief in the power of love means that we must make a commitment to keep on giving even when we cannot see any immediate results. Love, after all, is not just an isolated act – it is a process that flows out of an attitude of optimism and hope. So what do I do in those moments when I don't feel like pouring my energy into loving acts? Keep on doing them! Have we not learned that love is not just a feeling but also an action?

Phyllis Theroux, as tired as she was, experienced the joy of participating in the process of love by taking time out to meet her child's need. We, too, can experience the same joy by reaching down into the resources of caring and compassion to give of ourselves to others. The beautiful thing about this whole process was what she received back from her son. After her song, as she left the room, she heard the words, "Mommie, you are the greatest Mommie in the world!" Being on the receiving end is a necessary part of the process. It is my conviction that it is not enough to love my children – I must teach them to love me back. In doing this I will help them to learn how to live out the processes of love in their own lives.

The task is not easy. It is important that a strong belief in the power of love undergird the life of a community of faith. We live among people who are on a similar pilgrimage with us. The mission of the church is to provide insight and encouragement for our spiritual journey and make resources available to all of us to stay in the process that brings both health and happiness. It will always be the path of love that brings us home.

~Brooks Ramsey

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