It’s almost been a year since I retired from permanent employment which I announced in my February 2018 blog. In that blog I mentioned looking forward to more time to love, listen and “creating beauty through stained glass”. Over the past months I feel I’ve been called / graced to simplify my life in 3 ways of being and doing. Loving Linda, listening, creating stained glass pieces – mainly windows of grace. My reflecting on these ways of being / doing turned out to be over 1600 words so I am breaking it into 3 parts / blogs over the next few weeks, beginning with some thoughts about loving.
I could write more than 1600 words on love but let me begin with a spiritual experience from my Bible college days in Edmonton, Alberta in the late 1970s. While studying at Northwest Bible College, now called Vanguard College, I attended the youth meetings at Central Pentecostal Tabernacle. A speaker taught us the reason humans were created / made was to let God love us. I forget his name, I think it was one of the Argues…an old time Pentecostal family. He said that angels worship better than humans and anyone can do good works. Argue reminded us that John wrote “God is love”, from those verses he concluded that God initial response to anything is to love. Because loving is such a good thing God created something to love – all living things including the “very good” humanity, you and me. We were created in God’s image and hence we have the privilege to act out our divine nature by loving. However he insisted our response to God loving us must first be accepting that love – which I hadn’t heard before. The truth that first and foremost I was created to be loved by God seemed to free my soul from the weight of having to do everything right and guilt and the shame of never doing everything right. Yes, yes – we are to love God and each other – do something…I cover that in the next paragraph.
Over the years while I’ve allowed that truth to penetrate my soul and mind, slowly replacing all the angst I had about religion and church with God’s true purpose for my existence – to be loved by God. It’s amazing how hard it is to change my automatic inner response to the question “Why did God create me? … from … “worshipping Him” or “serving Him”. It took over 10 years before I could respond – “to let myself be loved”. I’m not sure where I got the idea of understanding love as a circle, beginning with God but is sort of incomplete without me returning that love, some how. The prime way I’ve learned to return that love, completing the circle begun by God, is to is to love what God loves. Steve Bell says this well in his song “Think about That” in his 2014 album Pilgrimage. “Whoever loves God, loves all that God loves”
I still need reminders to let God love me and then love God – which nowadays is simply loving myself (which is amazingly hard) and loving my partner / wife of 30 years, Linda. Then loving then extends to our family – the boys and their partners, Mom, my sibs and their families, friends old and newer, and all creation. Easier said than done but I’m a work in progress. So that’s the first thing I do now I’m retired – in case you were wondering.
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Commenting on my own blog seems weird but it’s a good way to supplement it. I need to add to that list of family folk to love our granddaughter Adley-Jo Elizabeth Murphy (Kathleen/Joel) born August 22/21. Grandparenting here I come. Another blessing on my pilgrimage. The adventure continues.