Witnesses for the Journey

Cheryl Anne Tuggle

In such a busy world evening services can be sparsely attended in many Orthodox churches—a regrettable fact, since these services are especially beautiful and edifying.

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On the eve of one feast years ago, the only worshipers at vigil other than Fr. Moses, our priest, were the three members of his own family. After the service his wife Magdalena remarked on how special it had been to be in church that evening and that it was a shame there was no one from the parish who had been able to attend. “They did though,” said her daughter, Dorothy, who was nine or ten at the time. She pointed to the icons covering the walls, “You could even say there was a crowd.”

She was right, of course, children usually are. Even if our visible number is only three we do not worship alone, surrounded as we are by so “great a cloud of witnesses.” Or as Dorothy put it, a crowd of them.

This year on the Sunday of All Saints, at the reading of the epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews it was that word witnesses which stood out to me, as if the reader had spoken it louder than the rest.

A witness is someone who has seen an event happen and can testify that it took place. For a wedding to be considered legal, there must be at least two people besides the bride and groom who are willing to be present and swear they saw it happen. Similarly, anyone called to give testimony as witness at a trial must swear that they actually saw with their own eyes the event in question. A mountain climber attempting an important climb for the first time will be accompanied by a an entire crew of guides and other climbers with experience on that peak. Not only are these people there to coach or lend aid, but also to witness the climb.mount-ararat-trek-mount-ararat-climb-mt-ararat-46975563876

This is what the saints do for us. Having already completed their journey, they accompany us on ours, lending experience and bearing witness. And someday, when they’re called to testify on our behalf, they’ll say they were there all right. They were there when we started out fresh and strong. There when we grew tired and lost our footing. There when night fell and we struggled to see our way in the dark. There on the ledge above us, offering a hand. There when we took it and pressed on.

 

Through a Glass, Darkly

by Cheryl Anne Tuggle

Finding descriptive words for the abstract is always a challenge. Thankfully, when the church’s early writers wanted to convey what happens at Holy Communion, or the lighteningthrough a glass darkly of the human heart at confession, or a man and a woman being fused into one flesh while remaining separate human persons, the Holy Spirit supplied the only word that sufficed:

Mystery.

Anyone who enjoys a good story is familiar with mystery. Through foreshadowing, the storyteller hints at an event or character trait, keeping the listener or reader interested in the outcome. In the story of “Br’er Rabbit and The Tar Baby” it is the repeated line “…please, don’t throw me in that briar patch” that keeps us spellbound, falling for the cleverness of Br’er Rabbit along with Br’er Fox. We are not surprised when the trickster escapes, but we did not know for sure that he would, and we certainly wondered how. Patiently, we wait for the unraveling until Br’er Rabbit is thrown into the briar patch and we finally understand his game. Now we are as much in the know as the storyteller. The mystery is solved.

The mysteries of the faith are never unraveled, never solved. Not in this life. There are no neat, wrapped-up endings here. Occasionally, unbelievably, we are simply allowed to glimpse God and live. But not to tell about it. In attempting to describe such an experience we become either tongue tied or ridiculous. Stumbling, we grasp fruitlessly for nouns or adjectives, shocked to find a previously adequate vocabulary has shrunk to one word:

Mystery.

It is just as well. Because the word seems to me exactly right. Perfect for those times when we are less dull than usual and sense that the veil between heaven and earth may be made of sheerer material than we thought—stuff so gossamer thin the fragrance of heaven seeps through it. At such moments it is good to just inhale deeply and say to our analyzing, questioning minds, “Be still. Be quiet. This is mystery.”

The Dreaded Kiss

grandma_kissby Cheryl Anne Tuggle

It seems like only yesterday we were approaching Cheesefare Sunday and I was planning the food I would prepare to take to church for our parish meal.

But that wasn’t yesterday, it was a year ago.

A year, and I’m still the coward I was then, distracting myself with thoughts of food from something I’d like to avoid.

If I had to pick a service to remove from the church year (and I’m glad I don’t) it would be Forgiveness Vespers. I’ll even admit that there have been times in past years when I’ve  found some lame excuse not to attend.

It’s not forgiveness I mind.  I  do (mostly) want to forgive. And even more than that, I want to be forgiven, to receive from God and my spiritual siblings a pardon for all my subtle, petty offenses. All my not-so-subtle, not-so-petty ones, too.

No. It’s not the forgiving I dread, or the forgiveness. It’s the embrace. The kiss.

Awkward as I feel doing it, though, I know that a beautiful mystery happens through this ritual, this physical act of forgiving. With it comes a deep spiritual effect. Father George Sayaf, of blessed memory, the sweet Syrian priest who baptized my parents, once explained it this way (in a  wonderful Holy Land accent):

“You forgive, good. But how does your brother know you forgive him? How does he know you love him? You must hug him. You must kiss him.”

Father George’s claim is pretty well supported in holy scripture. Sunday before last, we had the example of the father who, when his wayward son was still a speck in the distance, “ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

It’s not hard to imagine just how far the father’s loving embrace must have gone toward healing the son’s wounds and assuring him that his forgiveness was absolute.

In another scripture,  a kiss closes a rift between two brothers. Although Jacob has made the first move by sending a message of peace to Esau’s camp and extending an invitation to meet, he nearly has a nervous breakdown when he hears that the brother who threatened to kill him is coming to meet him all right, with four hundred men. Frightened though he was, “Jacob went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.” (Gen. 33: 3-4)

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Fear won’t keep me away this year, God help me. I’ve come to see that the bow, the kiss and the restorative embrace are all a necessary part of forgiveness and reconciliation. We’ll need to be in close proximity to one another, I suppose, my brother, my sister, and I, if our hearts are going to get in rhythm , echoing  the words on our lips:

I forgive you. Forgive me

 

 

Interpreting Dreams

by Michele Latham

 

I dream a lot. And I remember quite a bit about my dreams, at least for a while after I wake. It’s tempting to try to analyze them, but my priest has warned me it’s not a good idea. In fact, it can be dangerhighspeed_motion_blur_scenic_01_hd_pictureous to look for symbols, meanings or signs in our dreams. Most of us are unable to discern between a holy vision and a demonic one.

 

So I don’t dwell on them much, but this morning, I woke from a dream that was a crazy mash-up of thoughts I’d been having during waking hours. My husband was with me in the dream and we were running from something. We were jumping in and out of the car all night, trying to get somewhere and arriving too late or at the wrong destination. A gray mass hovered above us in the sky. We couldn’t get away from this dark cloud and it took all of our energy to keep changing the plan to stay one step ahead.

 

This constant activity seemed to go on for hours with no sign of relief when suddenly, I noticed my husband performing a small act of kindness; he opened the car door for me.

 

I froze in my tracks, seeming to see him for the first time during this crazy goose-chase of a dream. It was such a small thing, but his action was so endearing, so filled with love. The craziness stopped and the feeling of being on a hamster wheel ended.

 

Then the sun came out.  And the dream ended.

 

I awoke feeling so grateful for my husband and my life. I started hearing words that Fr. Moses has spoken to us so many times. He cautions us that this world will try to entangle us in the stress and worry of everyday life; even to the point of causing us to forget to love others. The evil one is crafty and can cause us to feel overwhelmed and tired of running in circles. Too tired, in fact, to care for and love our brothers and sisters. And to busy to love God, who never forgets to love us.

 

So, no, I do not try to interpret my dreams. But this particular one did serve as a reminder. It reminded me that the dark cloud of earthly cares doesn’t stand a chance against the light of Christ’s love.

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Her Price is Far Above Rubies

by Cheryl Anne Tuggle

Judging by the books we check out at the library where I work, most of our young patrons are well-rounded readers, liking everything from Hank the Cowdog to the Little House series.

That was not me at eight or nine. At that age I chose books the way my friend’s daughter with Asperger’s selects food. Fairy tales were my French fries. But unlike my friend’s daughter, who until a few years ago ate only French fries and only if they were made at McDonalds, I didn’t care where my fairy tales came from. Andrew Lang’s lastest color wrapped in a shiny new jacket, or a mossy brown volume of Old World stories from my elderly neighbor’s basement—it made no difference to me. I wanted a fairy tale, and I didn’t care how I got it.

Godmothers, especially the fairy variety, are a common element in traditional fairy stories, but like folktale princesses they bear little resemblance to their Disney counterparts. Not jolly, plump or absent-minded, the godmothers of these tales have grit. They are strong, sometimes formidable characters, not to be lightly dismissed or laughed away.

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I think now that it may have been those fairy tale godmothers I had in mind when at thirty-one I got to choose mine.

The first time I attended Divine Liturgy at a local Orthodox church,  I chose to sit near the back with my young daughter in case at any point in the service I felt like leaving . I’d hardly got settled when a tiny Indian woman sat down next to me and after taking my baby into her arms and kissing her, introduced herself. Dressed for Great and Holy Thursday in a sari the color of Merlot wine, she was fairer than any literary godmother I could have imagined. It was not her unusual beauty, though, that drew me, it was a quality of hidden strength. I sensed immediately that under all that warmth and softness, I would find a core of steel.

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I wasn’t wrong. In her early twenties, I learned, this woman left her home in South India where her people had been Christians since St. Thomas the Apostle first told them about the God-Man, Jesus, to travel alone to the United States to be with the husband of her arranged marriage. By the time I met her and asked her to be my sponsor, she had been a marvelous wife to that husband for twenty-five years, had raised three exceptionally bright children, had helped establish and sustain the thriving mission church I first visited, and was substitute teaching for the public school system, all while tirelessly supporting and caring for a host of extended family and friends.

In the end it was prayer, though, that convinced me I’d made the right choice. Twenty years later, my godmother is still a remarkably beautiful woman, but she is so much more than “rubies or pearls”. She has taught me, advised me and consoled me, and has even at times spoken hard truths to me, but mostly she has prayed for me, because it is the godmother duty she takes most seriously. Her prayers have been like eagle’s wings, bearing me aloft during times I should have been plummeting to earth, hitting the ground hard. I’m a godmother myself now, several times over, and feel blessed to have her example. It’s a unique role, being mother to a sister in Christ.  God help all who accept it to do as well as my godmother has done.

 

Part Two: Interlude from “A Road to Laurel”

by Donna Mills

The followiDonnang is part two of an interlude in the book, “A Road to Laurel,” which tells the story of a black man’s trial for alleged rape of a white woman.  Although the story is about my father’s defense of the man, I included interludes that spoke of my own experience with race and prejudice. This one includes my experience in the Orthodox Church, with Fr. Moses as my priest.  His oversight of my striving to shed any of my own prejudices was mostly silent and non-judgmental, which gave me the room in which to grow and a perfect model to follow.

 

Interlude III – cont’d

 

In the book “Black Boy,” written in 1943 by a native Mississippian, Richard Wright, about his life as an African American raised in the South, he bemoans the fact that the white culture experiences such different day to day life from the black. He wrote that the white culture has no idea how the black man has to adjust his nature to fit in. From his perspective, while he had “All my life…done nothing but feel and cultivate my feelings,” the white youth had “all their lives done nothing but strive for petty goals, the trivial material prizes of American life. We shared a common tongue, but my language was a different language from theirs.” It was true that he had suffered in certain ways, while it appeared that they no suffering at all. In fact, it may have been true that the shallowness he saw in their souls, which he described as “…like the syllables of popular songs,” was an accurate comparison of their experience compared to his – a life filled with hunger and disappointments, a life of fear and unwarranted reproach. As a young adult, Wright joined the Communist Party and felt that it had the answers for living in peace in this nation. Even there, however, he found himself to be misunderstood and finally, an outcast. After finding himself utterly alone, watching a Communist march he had been thrown out of, he wrote:
“My thoughts seemed to be coming from somewhere within me, as by a power of their own: It’s going to take a long and bloody time, a lot of stumbling and a lot of falling, before they find the right road. They will have to grope about blindly in the sunshine, butting their heads against every mistake, bruising their bodies against every illusion, making a million futile errors and suffering for them, bleeding for them, until they learn how to live.”
Wright spoke of a spiritual blindness, and hoped that his words would “…create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all, to keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human.”
Fr. Moses, whose great-grandfather was a slave, taught our congregation that the fathers of our Church spoke of suffering as the way to follow Christ, to win the freedom, peace and joy our souls hope for. He also told us that the old gospel tunes that the slaves sang held a deep spirituality that came from their suffering. He displays in his African American Heritage Museum in Ash Grove, Missouri an iron neck clamp that had been passed down in his family, as well as slave dogtags for remembrance of the cruelty that took place.
Yet, the Socialistic or Communist approach, which seemed to promise suffering for none and appeared to champion the minorities, in the end yields only empty surfeiting and enslavement to its system. I puzzled, as my Dad must have, to determine how to find the “True North,” until I found the saving Grace of faith.
Attempting to convey the substance of this lesson to my children, I read to them from “Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry,” by Mildred Taylor. They cuddled beside me to hear a nightly chapter of the tale of a black family in Jackson, Mississippi whose children walked to a school just down the way from my elementary school, both named “Jefferson Davis Elementary,” but one was for black children and one for white, who were privileged to ride the bus. My three children found it hard to understand why, and wondered at the family’s plight. The words of wisdom from the family’s mother gave perspective:
“Baby, we have no choice of what color we’re born
or who our parents are, or whether we’re rich or poor.
What we do have is some choice over
what we make of our lives once we’re here.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

by Donna MillsDonna

The following is part one of an interlude in the book, “A Road to Laurel,” which tells the story of a black man’s trial for alleged rape of a white woman.  Although the story is about my father’s defense of the man, I included interludes that spoke of my own experience with race and prejudice. This one includes my experience in the Orthodox Church, with Fr. Moses as my priest.  His oversight of my striving to shed any of my own prejudices was mostly silent and non-judgmental, which gave me the room in which to grow and a perfect model to follow.

 

 

Interlude III

I surprised the family in my young adulthood by making a 180 degree turn and committing my life to spiritual discipline. It looked as though the seeds of influence planted by my grandmother had somehow survived and taken root, saving me from the road to perdition I had earlier started on. I converted to Orthodox Christianity and joined myself to a church whose African-American Priest, Fr. Moses, I greatly admired. I prided myself on the lessons learned from my Mom and Dad, and I believed myself to be non-prejudiced. Ironically, the small congregation was mostly white, as was Fr. Moses’ wife. The differences in our color of skin made no difference to me, but I ran into troubles with one of the few black ladies in the church.

Shelia had a propensity for getting under my skin, as she seemed to have a chip on her shoulder, and would engage me in conversations with what I considered a cynical and opinionated view.  I wondered if her attending an all-white women’s college in Mississippi precluded her cynicism, or it had been inbred through a family who desperately wanted to infuse self-esteem into their intelligent girl, who would otherwise have been vulnerable to the lack of opportunities she would find for herself in the society of the South. Whatever the case, I must have symbolized to her the privileged Southern white girl, and it may have been hard for her to see me as anything different.

I went to Fr. Moses to confess my irritation and lack of ability to love for my sister in the church. He kindly suggested that we go out together and have some fun – just get to know each other.  Easy enough, I thought. However, Sheila was not delighted at the prospect to get to know me. Either she didn’t think I was really worth the time or money for a frivolous outing – she was a single mother with tight funds – or she was as timid about what the intimacy might bring to light as I was. Then there was the deciding of what we should actually do. Watching a movie together sounded non-threatening. She suggested Spike Lee’s new movie – “Do The Right Thing.” Thinking I would be caught up in a heated racial discussion, I hedged.  I offered to see “Dead Poet’s Society,” only because of my admiration of the comedian, Robin Williams. Her equally oppositional reaction to seeing a movie about a rich white boys’ private school took me by surprise. Both offended, we decided to put the outing on hold.  After some time she called back, possibly after talking to Fr.  Moses herself, and we agreed to go to a local Indian concert she had seen in the paper.

On the way, we chuckled as we realized that we didn’t know if we were going to a concert of Native American people or folks from India. The issue was cleared when we saw the women in their beautiful saris and the sitars carried under their arms, I felt somewhat awkward and out of place as those dressed properly for this event paused at our jeans. Sheila was used to being a minority, however, and returned my nervous glance with a stoic one of her own. We eventually found our way to the auditorium and took our seats. After a brief welcome and introduction of the musicians, the room darkened. The first performer, a young woman, walked on stage and seated herself on a pillow.  With sitar in lap, she began to play to a hushed audience – one string at a time. The reverberation of the music seemed to stun the crowd and as we heard deeply felt utterances from the people around us, we glanced sideways at each other to catch some understanding of what everyone seemed to be so in awe of.  Sheila shrugged at my questioning eyes, and we turned our attention back to the performance. Although we were used to listening to flowing music with a little action and melody, we attempted to open our senses to the mystical sounds of this strange instrument. Truly, there was beauty in the sounds, but when the crowd once again began to ooh and ahh in amazement at the twang of a single string, Sheila and I again looked at each other for a clue of what we should be amazed of. She was the first one to let a laugh slip, and I, too, failed when attempting to conceal mine.  We were instantly corrected by the frowns of those seated in front of us, who turned to see who could be so impudent.  We silently mouthed an agreement after a few more compulsive chuckles to leave after the performer had finished a set.

The laughter and conversation that followed brought Sheila and I closer together than we had ever been, though we never really acknowledged that this bond came about by our mutual lack of understanding of yet another culture in our midst.  At least we had learned an unspoken lesson together of what it is like not being able to relate to another race outside the mere black/white split.  We understood that being a part of our cultures alone had a great impact on our inability to communicate another culture’s “language,” no matter if our words were the same, or if we both bought our groceries at the same corner store.  There were generations behind each of us whose cultural nuances were unconsciously carried in the makeup of our thoughts as well as our genetics.  There were values and goals that had their own familial roots, traditions and foods which might seem strange to others.  How would we learn to be truly unprejudiced?

 

An Easier Road

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by Cheryl Anne Tuggle

Every so often I open a book from my shelf at home and find tucked between the pages a creased and wrinkled relic of the pre-internet era. In those olden days I used to copy longhand, with a pen, passages I liked and wanted to save or pin up around the house. On this particular scrap of paper, re-discovered every few years like a buried and forgotten bone, is written a free-verse poem called “The Wayfarer”, by the laconic author of The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane.

In the poem, a traveler has stumbled upon the very thing every authentic pilgrim seeks: the pathway to truth. Shocked to see the state the road is in, woolly and overgrown with a dense curtain of weeds, he remarks (much like last Sunday’s Pharisee) on the lack of zeal shown by previous pilgrims. “Ha,” he says, “I see that none has passed here in a long time.” Parting the underbrush, he sets bravely out on a road lesser feet than his have feared to trod.

Only later (though how much later the poet does not say) does our pilgrim learn why the road is so bosky and untraveled. Each weed is a singular knife.

Often at this point in the year I feel like the wayfarer, strong and primed for a quest. Holiday has followed holiday until I’ve indulged myself to the point of glut. I actually believe I am ready for a good fast. The Lenten Triodion begins and I stand at the trailhead with chin lifted, gazing with self-righteous scorn at the road ahead of me, all weedy and overgrown. Only later, when my belly feels hollow and I’ve grown weary of longer services and longer prayers, of prostrations and penitence, only then will I be close enough to the path to perceive the singular, piercing nature of the weeds obscuring it. My chin drops to my chest and I am able see that there are other feet next to mine, soles healed over and scar-toughened. It may not be the widest, most cleared and beaten trail, I will realize then—I will remember—but it is not uncut. Plenty of other pilgrims have traveled it before me. Plenty more are traveling it alongside me. Together, we will proceed on.

pilgrimage.

Sadly, the wayfarer of Stephen Crane’s poem gives up. Having little understanding of that which he seeks, he has no reason to endure the pain and turns around. Heading back the way he came, he wonders if there might after all be more than one way to truth. Like those other pilgrims he judged for their faintheartedness at the outset of his journey, he begins to seek an easier road.

Beautiful Discord

by Michele Latham

children_kids_music I recently read about a certain culture which is known to produce an abundance of talented musicians. The children were observed playing instruments at a very young age. This is not to say that the parents enroll their three-year-olds in Suzuki violin lessons, but rather when the adults gather to play music together (which is frequently), the children are welcomed.

They are encouraged to hold and experiment with various instruments, joining in while the adults play. The experimentation may cause a little discord in the songs, but the adults didn’t seem to notice.

By the time the children are of an age to receive musical instruction, they are familiar with the instrument; the way it feels and the sound it makes. People are amazed at the seemingly large a number of natural musicians born in this region, when in truth, the environment and early exposure to music plays as important a role as heredity.

As a visitor to an Orthodox church many years ago, I was surprised and a little distracted by the number of small children and even babies in the service. They were walking around or sitting on the floor, some being held by their parents. The service was long and some children were escorted out of the nave a time or two, presumably for bathroom breaks or snacks.

For the most part, the children behaved as if they were in a place that was comfortable to them, as if they were home.

The adults didn’t seem to notice the undercurrent of movement and noise coming from the children, they were focused on the prayers and scriptures being read. When a restless baby had to be soothed, no one turned to stare. And when a toddler lunged toward a vase of flowers, no one gasped. The nearest adult just bent and swooped up the child to avoid a mess.

All of this was new to me as a Protestant. Upon further study, I noticed that the children were not just marking time like they do while waiting for mom to check out in the grocery store.

They were aware of what was happening. Maybe they didn’t listen carefully or understand the all wocenser 2rds being said, but when the jangling sound of the censor alerted them to the activity near the altar, they would turn their attention to the priest. They respectfully kissed the icons and were lifted up by their parents to light candles. When the congregation began to sing “Lord, have mercy”, some small voices joined in. And when it was time to receive communion, all ages expectantly lined up to approach the chalice.

 

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I then understood that these children were in the process of absorbing the Christian faith just like the children in my example above were absorbing music. They were surrounded by worship and were being encouraged to participate with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Having this knowledge, it was still hard to break old habits when it came to bringing my own kids to church with me. I had been raised in a church where the worship service was for adults only.

Once my family had become Orthodox, I had to fight the urge to remove my children from the room when they made noise.  One of my sons, before he could talk, would chant in nonsense syllables along with his dad, the reader. Rather than clamp my hand over his mouth, I reminded myself he was learning to pray and instead I gently whispered in his ear, asking him to use a quieter voice.

Today, our little parish has several families with young children and some Sundays it seems the adults are outnumbered! I would never describe the sounds I hear during services as discord. Rather, it is the beautiful sound of our children learning to love God.

He Ain’t Heavy

by Cheryl Anne Tuggle

Not long ago my husband and I were discussing the possibility of our future son-in-law moving from Ohio to Missouri. If the plan went through he’d be staying with us for a few months, until after the wedding in late May. I was not sure at all that the arrangement could work, although Kevin was insisting it would be just fine.

“I don’t know,”…I said, with a frown.

To say my husband is a creature of habit would be the understatement of a lifetime. From his early morning wake-up routine to his custom of enjoying a cold beer in a frosted mug with salted-in-the-shell peanuts every single work-day evening of the year, you can set a clock by him.

It was that little happy hour habit that worried me.

The fiance, you see, has a potentially fatal allergy to peanuts.

Now, until our daughter fell in love with a man from the six percent of the population with the life-threatening allergy, I’d never seriously considered the risk the popular nut could pose. When I did stop to consider, it only took a quick Google search to realize exactly what I then expressed to my husband that night in our discussion:

This was a really big deal.

For the peanut allergic person, I told him, even being in the same room with the potentially life-sucking legume can be nerve-wracking, worse than Superman’s anxiety around Kryptonite.

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“I get that,” he said, nodding. “No more peanuts and beer.”

I wasn’t buying . “So, we’re  going to make this house peanut free,” I said, not even trying to hide my skepticism. “You’re really going to give up eating peanuts every night with your beer?”

He was silent for a long moment, as if considering. Then he walked over to the refrigerator and pointed to a strip of paper I had stuck to the door with a magnet, a quote from St. Philaret of Moscow.

“‘Love,’” he said, reading the quote, “‘is the living and active participation in the well-being of another person.’”

He wasn’t claiming it would be easy, but for my husband it was that simple.  The way he saw it, this wasn’t about peanuts at all. It was about love. He believed he should consider his neighbor—or his daughter’s fiance—as being himself.

“Love bears all things…endures all things…” (Cor 13: 7)

All things. No exclusions or special cases listed in parentheses. No “All things” (except peanut allergy).

Love willingly bears his brother’s cross, taking it up and carrying it as if it were his own. And Christ assures us that the load actually weighs much less heavy than it appears.  Once shouldered, love is a burden easily carried, miraculously light. (Matt. 11:30)

 

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(In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. He’s my hero, that husband of mine.)