“Words are simply the signs of things. But many people treat things as though they were the signs and illustrations of words.” Aldous Huxley
“To name a thing is to acknowledge its existence as separate from everything else that has a name; to confer upon it the dignity of autonomy while at the same time affirming its belonging with the rest of the namable world; to transform its strangeness into familiarity, which is the root of empathy. To name is to pay attention; to name is to love. Parents name their babies as a first nonbiological marker of individuality amid the human lot; lovers give each other private nicknames that sanctify their intimacy; it is only when we began naming domesticated animals that they stopped being animals and became pets. . . . And yet names are words, and words have a way of obscuring or warping the true meanings of their objects. ‘Words belong to each other,’ Virginia Woolf observed . . . and so they are more accountable to other words than to the often unnamable essences of the things they signify. . . . Naming is an act of redemption and a special form of paying attention, which [Robin Wall] Kimmerer captures beautifully:
Having words for these forms [of various mosses] makes the differences between them so much more obvious. With words at your disposal, you can see more clearly. Finding the words is another step in learning to see. . . . Having words also creates an intimacy with the plant that speaks of careful observation. . . . In indigenous ways of knowing, all beings are recognized as non-human persons, and all have their own names. It is a sign of respect to call a being by its name, and a sign of disrespect to ignore it. Words and names are the ways we humans build relationships . . . . Intimate connection allows recognition in an all-too-often anonymous world. . . . Intimacy gives us a different way of seeing.'” Maria Popova
“Whatever the man called each living creature,
that was its name.”
Genesis 2:19b NIV
“He saw an animal that liked to snort.
Horns on his head and they weren’t too short.
It looked like there wasn’t nothin’ that he couldn’t pull.
‘Ah, think I’ll call it a bull.”
Bob Dylan, “Man Gave Names To All the Animals”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Have you realized the predictable difference between “what something is” and “what it is to you”?
- Can you see how much power exists in naming? . . . both for great good and for great harm?
- Can you see how finding the right words can help you “see more clearly?” . . . love more readily?
Abba, break my addition to assumptions and labels for the sake of love.
For More: “Autism From the Inside” by Katherine May
“Evangelism, and even the notion of mission itself, has sometimes been reduced to the words we share with another person, telling him or her about Jesus, salvation, or eternal life. Words are important, but they can also be cheap. If we use words and get words in response, sometimes we think we’ve done mission or evangelism. Ministry among poor and vulnerable people reminds us that words are rarely enough—what each of us needs is to know that we are loved by Jesus, beloved of God. Everything else flows from that. In situations of injustice or despair, words alone are particularly insufficient. People need to be loved and valued by others. They need to see what love looks like.When Jesus is called a friend of tax collectors and sinners, the description is not intended as a compliment (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). But it does acknowledge the shocking welcome he embodied in reaching out to those considered unclean and unworthy. He seems to have enjoyed being with them. Causing considerable offense to the religious authorities, Jesus gladly shared meals with these friends and brought them love, hope, and healing. . . . Learning to see the so-called other as a friend increases our sensitivity to the reductionism, commodification, and manipulation that plague some versions of mission and ministry. Human beings who are not Christians are far more than potential converts. In our concern for reaching out with the gospel, we can unwittingly reduce the person to less than the whole being that God formed. . . . We are better able to resist tendencies to reductionism when we are in relationships that affirm each person’s dignity and identity and when we come into those relationships confident that God is already at work in the other person.” Christopher Heuertz and Christine Pohl
“If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, ‘You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor’—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?” James 2:3,4 NLT
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you know that you are “beloved by God?” Is this your starting point for ministry to others?
- Jesus “seemed to enjoy being with them” (the “unclean and unworthy”). Do you think of Jesus that way?
- Are some people so “other” to you that there is no chance of you ever knowing or loving them? How can you become more like Jesus?
Abba, let me love in deeds–and without discrimination.
For More: Friendship At the Margins by Christopher Heuertz and Christine Pohl
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. Thanks for your interest! – Bill
Heuertz, Christopher L. and Pohl, Christine D., Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission. Downers Grove: IVP, 2010.
“To become free does not mean becoming great in the world, not becoming free from your brother, nor even free from God, but to become free from oneself, one’s lie. It means to become free from thinking only of myself, from being the center of my world, from hate, by which I despise God’s creation. It means to be free to be for the other: the person for others. Only God’s truth can enable me to see the other as he really is. It tears out the twisted image that I have of the other within me and shows him to me in a new light. And insofar as God’s truth does that, it bestows upon me the action, the love, the grace of God. It destroys our lies and creates the truth. It destroys hatred and creates love. God’s truth is God’s love and God’s love makes us free from ourselves for others. To be free means nothing less than to be in love. And to be in love means nothing less than being in the truth of God. The man who loves because he has been made free by God is the most revolutionary man on earth. He challenges all values. He is the explosive material of human society. He is a dangerous man. For he recognizes that the human race is in the depths of falsehood. And he is always ready to let the light of truth fall upon his darkness; and he will do this because of his love. But this disturbance, which such people bring, calls forth hatred from the world. And therefore this knight of truth and love is not the hero that men long for or honor, not one who is without enemies; but one whom they would do away with, outlaw, indeed kill. The way of God’s truth leads to the cross. From now on, we know that all truth which is true before God must face the cross. The church that follows Christ must go with him to the cross.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Are you aware of sometimes having “a twisted image … of the other”–perhaps based on race, religion or social status?
- Will you “let the light of truth fall upon your darkness”–to free you to love?
- How would it make you feel to be described as “the person for others?”
- Are you free enough of yourself–”from being the center of your world, from hate”–to be that person?
Abba, free me of the lies I tell myself that ensnare me in hatred.
For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson
Thanks for reading and sharing this blog. I appreciate your interest! – Bill
“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” Swedish Proverb
“… he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all.” Søren Kierkegaard
“Strong hate, the hate that takes joy in hating, is strong because it does not believe itself to be unworthy and alone. It feels the support of a justifying God, of an idol of war, an avenging and destroying spirit. From such blood-drinking gods the human race was once liberated, with great toil and terrible sorrow, by the death of a God Who delivered Himself to the Cross and suffered pathological cruelty of His own creatures out of pity for them. In conquering death He opened their eyes to the reality of a love which asks no questions about worthiness, a love which overcomes hatred and destroys death. But men have now come to reject this divine revelation of pardons and they are consequently returning to the old war gods, the gods that insatiably drink blood and eat the flesh of men. It is easier to serve the hate-gods because they thrive on the worship of collective fanaticism. To serve the hate-gods, one has only to be blinded by collective passion. To serve the God of Love one must be free, one must face the terrible responsibility of the decision to love in spite of all unworthiness whether in oneself or in one’s neighbor.” Thomas Merton
“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks….” Rainer Maria Rilke
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” Brené Brown
“One learns to love God by loving men and women.” Charles deFoucauld
“What value has compassion that does not take its object in its arms?” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Moving From Head to Heart
- Where do you need to practice a love “which asks no questions about worthiness?” Who do you need to take into your arms in compassion?
- Is God teaching you to love him as you give yourself to “the most difficult of all tasks” – loving someone else?
- Are you able to love yourself when you “least deserve it?” Can you extend to yourself the grace you extend to others?
- Do you see “collective passion/fanaticism” at work in your religion or politics?
God of love for the undeserving, work you love in me.
For More: New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“This man or this woman seems so different from you, I know. That’s why it seems so difficult to love him or her. When you think on one level, she thinks on another. When you’re certain this perspective matters most, he brings in another angle entirely. And you ask yourself, ‘How can I possibly love someone who is so different from me?’ And yet consider, if you can ask this question with integrity, try asking yourself this one: How could you possibly love God? He is spirit, and you are encased in flesh and bones. He is eternal, and you are trapped in time. He is all holy, perfect, sinless, and you – like me – are steeped in sin. It is far less of a leap for a man to love a woman or for a woman to love a man than it is for either of us to love God. But I think it’s more than that. I think marriage is designed to call us out of ourselves and learn to love the ‘different.’ Put together in the closest situation imaginable – living side by side, sleeping in the same room, even, on occasion, sharing our bodies with each other – we are forced to respect and appreciate someone who is so radically different. We need to be called out of ourselves because, in truth, we are incomplete. God made us to find our fulfillment in Him – the Totally Other. Marriage shows us that we are not all there is; it calls us to give way to another, but also to find joy, happiness, and even ecstasy in another. …Christianity involves believing certain things, to be sure, but its herald, its hallmark, its glory is not in merely ascribing to certain intellectual truths. The beauty of Christianity is in learning to love, and few life situations test that so radically as does a marriage.” Gary Thomas
“Above all, love each other deeply.”
1 Peter 4:8
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you find people who are nothing like you hard to take?
- Can you see marriage as the place where we care called “out of ourselves and learn to love the other?” …even, where we learn to love God, the “Totally Other?”
- Is learning to love those who are “different” a priority for you? If not, why not, since this is undoubtedly the “hallmark” of Christianity?
Abba, use my marriage to teach me to love those who are not like me.
For More: Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“Love springs from awareness. It is only inasmuch as you see persons as they really are here and now and not as they are in your memory or your desire or in your imagination or projection that you can truly love them; otherwise it is not the people that you love but the idea that you have formed of them. Therefore, the first act of love is to see this person…. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking…. When you set out to serve someone whom you have not taken the trouble to see, are you meeting that person’s need or your own? So the first ingredient of love is to really see the other. The second ingredient is equally important: to see yourself, to ruthlessly flash the light of awareness on your motives, your emotions, your needs, your dishonesty, your self-seeking, your tendency to control and manipulate. This means calling things by their names, no matter how painful the discovery and the consequences. If you achieve this kind of awareness of the other and yourself, you will know what love is.” Anthony de Mello
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!’” Luke 7:35-39
Moving From Head to Heart
“Simon the Pharisee did not really see the sinful woman as a human being loved by God. He saw a sinner, an interruption, a person without a right to be at the dinner table. Jesus saw her differently.” Pete Scazzero
- Think about it, how would you have seen her?
- What can you do to gain more “awareness of the other and yourself?”
Abba, open my eyes to reality as you know it.
More: Begin the Journey with the Daily Office by Pete Scazzero
These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”