Last week, Richard Rohr published a meditation that included this line.
“Love is the source and the goal, faith is the slow process of getting there and hope is the willingness to move forward without resolution and closure.”
It blew me away and so I wrote it up on our chalk wall in the dining room. We have 4 grids: Wall of Fame, Prayer List, Quote of the Week and Do-er’s Choice. We also keep a bucket of chalk on the table. Though I conceived of it as a place for family expression, probably about 80% of the time, I am the only one who expresses herself there. Occasionally the kids will chip in with a “Thanks, Mom,” or a “Way to go” on the Wall of Fame. A little more often, they will add someone’s name to the Prayer List. When they were small, they would jockey for space to draw in the Do-er’s Choice lower quadrant. When inspiration strikes, Tim will commandeer the Quote of the Week for a song lyric, usually from U2. So what I thought was a fun and inexpensive way to get the kids involved has mostly become another place for me to do my “mom-thing.” It does however, on occasion, open up some family conversation, so I just put things up and see what happens. Sometimes they ask, but mostly they ignore it.
However, I loved Richard’s words so much that I wanted to make sure they saw them. During dinner last week, I pointed out the quote and asked what they thought.
Clearly, I threw them for a loop, because they kind of nodded, said, “Uh-huh,” and moved on. Our dinnertime conversations cover topics like school, friends, our goods and bads, sometimes song lyrics, and these days, even politics, but rarely do we stray into theology. At the end of a long day, it’s just too much and on a normal night, if it were an obscure text from some 14th century mystic, I would have given up and moved on, but the idea is so central to my understanding of the world that I thought I’d try one more time.
“Let me draw you a picture.”
“Love is the source and the goal.”
On the left side is our ‘source,’ the beginning of the universe, the Big Bang. It began with what the scriptures in Greek called the Alpha; what we would call God. Richard Rohr, drawing on the work of the saints and the mystics across the ages, calls it Love. That’s why it’s a heart. God’s desire to be in relationship got the whole thing started and it’s what keeps the whole thing going. NOTHING operates in isolation or solitude. On a most basic level, that’s what Love means. From the tiniest sub-atomic particle to the global population, we are drawn toward each other and we are changed and charged by those connections.
On the right side is our ‘goal,’ where we are headed. That is also God, what the Greeks called the Omega point. That is also Love, for God is Love and despite all the setbacks, the violence and injury we do to each other, the primal urge is to draw back together. What is scattered is gathered again. It is the way of life and evolution, the way of Love.
“Faith is the slow process of getting there.”
The line from the left to the right is the length of our days. We go along; we live our lives. We are sure of our path and where we are headed, except when we aren’t. There are moments when our surety and safety are disrupted. Bad things happen! We get bullied; people die; we fail miserably at school, at a job, at a marriage. In those moments, we need Faith to see us through. Faith is our will to live; it is knowing where we came from and where we are headed.
“Hope is the willingness to move forward without resolution and closure.”
Even with Love and Faith, we will not move forward on that line without Hope, because things won’t be resolved as quickly as we’d like. In discouragement, it would be easy to stop, but Hope is the engine that drives us forward anyway. Life does not operate according to perfect plans, but even when we don’t know the answer, Hope allows us to trust that an answer will come eventually.
“Does that make more sense?” I asked them.
“Sure mom, we get the picture.”
Good enough, I thought. If they have the picture of Love at the beginning and end of it all, that’s good enough for me.
I sheepishly put down my pencil and the conversation moved on to other things. Sometimes, I think I overwhelm them with too many ‘big ideas,’ but I hope they will retain some of the biggest, the ones I repeat most often.
This is the truth of our lives. Love is where we came from and Love is where we are headed. Yes, we encounter circumstances every day that challenge that truth, but Faith allows us to carry on ‘as if’ it were true. And if we look for it, we can also find clear evidence to fuel our Hope. We can witness Love winning through compassionate giving, community building, truth telling, and resource sharing. I see it in my friends and my enemies. No one is exempt from the ability and desire to Love. And that truth gives me the Hope to walk further down the road in Faith toward even greater Love.
Even, and maybe even especially, during family dinners.
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Excellent- a visual aide always helps get the point across! Thank you for “breaking” it down for us!
I love reading your posts, and today’s especially spoke to me, in part because I’m a Richard Rohr fan and a mom. As a pastor I’m beginning to learn that sometimes big ideas are difficult to respond to such that we writers/proclaimers/preachers must be satisfied with saying what is our heart’s truth with the faith that it will at some point germinate in our hearers’ hearts. It’s a big leap of faith for me, but now that my babies have babies, I’m beginning to see that the good that I said (alas, fraction of the total) took root. Thanks be to God!
Cheryl – As Keara, our oldest has gone away to college, I am beginning to see the truth of your wisdom. They hear so much more than they let on and believe so much more than they admit. Thanks so much for commenting on and supporting my work and I’d love to hear more about yours. Any time you want to drop me a line at Alikirks@gmail.com, I’d love to be in touch.
Nice Ali, more great thoughts. I would gladly be at your dinner table any night to discuss such thoughts.
One of these days, we will get to do that dinnertime conversation together – all of us!
Ali, you never fail to inspire me with the things you are learning from God! Thank you for your honesty and transparency which helps me understand life more clearly and God more powerfully.
Blessings Dan, on your recovery, your work, family and life. Hope to be able to see you soon – pain free!
Ali,I asked Kristin to read your “Dinner and a Drawing” blog this morning. I asked her to share her thoughts after she read it. Of course, I said this as I was walking out the door on the way to the gym. This is what she texted me…”Typical Ali! Dumbing it down for the rest of us! As we later continued the discussion, we both concluded that you should write a book called, “God for dummies”
I am recovering very well and pain-free!!! Looking forward to see the Kirks soon!
Ali, you make even me feel like a mom. Keep doing what you’re doing.
May I share yo post with the Religious Ed board? Our focus is love for the spring.
Cheryl Shyba firstname.lastname@example.org