Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Valentine (05/16/05)
TITLE: Of Love, Vines & Valentines
By Sandra Fischer
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Have you ever noticed how the vines on a Mandavila or Clematis plant intertwine so tightly that you can’t distinguish one from another? It occurs to me how this parallels the word “lovingkindness”, which appears many times in the Book of Psalms. The compounding of these two benevolent actions make them truly inseparable – one can’t be sincerely kind without loving nor truly loving without being kind. The true essence of the one is inexorably intertwined with that of the other.
Each year we celebrate Valentine’s Day with its various expressions of love and kindness. While the St. Valentine tradition of sending love messages is a good one, I like what another saint by the name of Augustine said about the subject:
“What does Love look like? It has hands to help others. It has feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of fellow men. That is what Love looks like.”
In Augustine’s view, love is manifested through our deepest sensitivity to others’ needs, followed by putting that love into sacrificial action. This is lovingkindness. You can see it in those who aided the victims of the Tsunami disaster, the California mudslides and the Florida hurricanes. And, you don’t have to go far to find it in your own backyard – neighbors and friends reaching out to those suffering from the loss of a loved one, or disease, or other kinds of heartbreak - those personal “Tsunamis” and “mudslides” that overwhelm us. “Each man’s grief is my own”, a line from the 50’s song, No Man Is An Island ala John Donne’s reflection, captures the whole idea of how our lives are intertwined. God's lovingkindness was spread abroad to us as an example of what our relationship should be to Him and to others. We need Him. We need each other. We need to give and receive lovingkindness. Perhaps that’s why the Master Gardener "planted" the idea in the first place.
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