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Love God and Love Neighbor – A Reflection

April 2, 2020
Our friend the Bull Moose who we spent 45 minutes hanging out with in October of 2018

As this nation and world continue to cope with and respond to the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus, many challenges erupt. One of the things I have noticed is the various ways in which people come together or move apart. We are in the midst of social distancing here in the US… or at least in some parts of the US. Anyhow, we are learning some significant lessons on how to be a community in these trying times.

Social Isolation and Distancing is difficult for so many. Not many of us are ready to adopt the life of a hermit. Not many of us are ready to adopt the life of a monastic. Yet we are all being challenged to adopt this life to one degree or another as the Pandemic sweeps across this nation and world.

So, in this time of social isolation and a pandemic, how can we still relate to each other. While we cannot meet friends for dinner at a restaurant or a pint at the local pub or a glass of wine at the winery; we are still a community. Several dear friends from around the globe (literally) who are musicians are offering virtual gigs where we can all enjoy music and fellowship. On the one hand it is wonderful to spend time with Robin and Mick from Ireland while hanging out with Nadine, Erin, and Jon in Colorado. Yes, there is so much that draws us together across so many divisions. Music truly is the universal connection. However, there is an even deeper connection that we have.

That connection is love. Thomas Merton in his book, No Man is an Island said the following about Love, God and Neighbor.

The true answer, which is supernatural, tells us that we must love ourselves in order to be able to love others, that we must find ourselves by giving ourselves to them. The words of Christ are clear: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (p. xix)

Agape… Man is divided against himself and against God by his own selfishness, which divides himself against his brother. This division cannot be healed by a love that places itself only on one side of the rift. Love must reach over to both sides and draw them together. We cannot love ourselves unless we love others, and we cannot love others unless we love ourselves. (p. xx)

This truth never becomes clear as long as we assume that each one of us, individually, is the center of the universe. We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others. (p. xx)

Merton tells us that once we figure out that we are not the center of the universe… once we figure out that there is equal space for all of our sisters and brothers who are all created in God’s image… once we figure out that we are all interconnected… it is then that we can begin to love ourselves and our neighbor. In so doing we are loving God as God first loved us. In this time, dear reader, may we make that sort of love our goal and our aim. Love after all makes the word truly go around. May God lead us in the light and show us the love as we walk this journey together.

  1. This time of this pandemic is a great time for the Church to be the Church.

  2. Judy Pickett permalink

    Thank you! My son Jon (who speaks very highly of you) sent me a link to your blog. I’ll be sure to visit you frequently.

  3. My son Jon (who thinks very highly of you) sent me a link to your blog. I’ll check in on it frequently. Thank you.

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